Re-writing the Statistics

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A group of female Cloud & Fire students attended the Adelante Mujer Latina Career Conference at Cal State University Northridge on Saturday, March 21st. The event’s purpose was to empower young Latina women to consider careers in medicine, education, urban planning, physics, design, law, law enforcement and engineering.

Workshops were set up for each featured career lead by Latina women—professionals in their field. Each presenter shared their own personal story of success and what obstacles they faced and overcame. Students were encouraged to ask questions and seek new connections within the field(s) that interested them.

Here’s what Eileen (first girl on the left)  had to say about the event below:

What were your expectations for the event?

I knew going would give me the extra push I needed to pursue what I wanted to do next even though I’m uncertain about what that may be.

What did you learn?

Most of the classes were about where the speakers came from and what they struggled through to accomplish what they had. They talked about pushing their obstacles aside and not letting them stop you but instead pushing through. They stayed focused because they didn’t want to keep their current circumstances; they wanted more.

I went into the last workshop and that was really cool. As a child I wanted to be a police officer, but I always limited myself because I didn’t really think I could or was smart enough. The law workshop talked about how achieving things isn’t about how smart you are but how much drive and hard work you’re willing to invest.

What did you take away from the day’s events?

It inspired me so much. As a single mother my story is pretty much written according to society. There are statics and expectations of me having another kid and not really doing anything after high school. I knew that those things weren’t true for me, but I didn’t know how to change that. The speakers inspired me to stay moving forward and hearing them speak on their own struggles and how they made it gave me ideas on how I could maybe change the statics. I learned that you write your own story, you have the power to not go the same cycles the statics expect you to go through.

When Students Take Flight

Aviation Day

On Friday, March 20, a group of students accompanied by staff visited the MP Aero Hangar for “The Sky’s the Limit” Aviation Career Day. The event was hosted by Councilwoman Nury Martinez, the Van Nuys Airport, MP Aero and The Valley Economic Alliance with Congressman Tony Cardenas as one of the guest speakers.

Cloud & Fire students experienced interactive aviation and aerospace exhibits, military and civilian aircraft displays, high-tech video presentations, and bus tours of the airfield. Experts currently working in a variety of fields with the aviation and aerospace industries shared with students firsthand accounts of what working for the industry entails. There were also possible summer jobs or internships opportunities available for students.

Jorge Cervantes, a Cloud & Fire student, never knew how many types of airplanes there are, or how many career opportunities exist within aviation. “The field trip was interesting because of the different airplanes they talked about,” Jorge said. “There were different booths set up with people from different companies like the police, fire department, army, and NASA. NASA was the best because they had an experiment on flying and they showed us how to control the different parts of the plane.”

Interactive experiences such as this open young people’s eyes to possibilities they never dreamed of before. Cloud & Fire YouthBuild was honored to participate in this event, as it may help some students take flight in a career they never before considered.

Manufacturing Summit

Cloud and Fire’s College and Career Advisor, Tracy DiFilippis, along side with Los Angeles Valley College, hosted a Manufacturing Summit on Thursday, March 5. The event hosted about forty representatives from a variety of companies and schools in an effort to draw support for an untapped work opportunity for students: Apprenticeships. Several presenters touched on what Apprenticeships are and how they are both beneficial to companies and students alike.


Apprenticeships are an alternative option to going to college out of high school, although some programs do require a bachelor’s degree depending on the field. Instead of going to school people in apprenticeship programs go study at a company for an amount of time determined by the specific program, where the individual learns the ins and outs of the company. At the end of the program participants are given a certificate of completion. Gerry Stump of Roberts Tool Co., stated, “We have to give them a skill that cant be replaced, that will carry them through long term career and living for all of their working days.” The apprenticeship program isn’t just about creating short term solutions, but long term ones that provide a sustainable future for not just the worker, but the company as well.


Melody Rossi, Cloud and Fire’s Founder and Executive Director, presented on how vital it is to provide positive alternative solutions to prevent students from choosing life styles that ultimately cause them harm and often leads to shorter lives. Gangs are the largest apprenticeship system and its a system that leads only to death and destruction. It is important that there is a more positive and productive system that draws students away from such dangerous situations and provides a healthier and more sustainable future. Programs like apprenticeships take people who may have otherwise been looked over and provides them with an opportunity to be successful, thriving members of their community.

Government Education Days (GED) 2015: A Student’s Perspective

Written by YouthBuild student, Angel Telphy.

Cloud & Fire YouthBuild students stand in front of the State Capital in Sacramento.

Finding out about the opportunity to travel to Sacramento was great and I immediately said “yes” in my mind. Once I knew for sure that the trip was in motion, I started talking to a few of the girls about what we all felt it would be like. Though it seemed like forever for the day to come when we’d hop in our Cloud & Fire van and drive to L.A. to get on a bus, the wait was worth it! I felt a little nervous to leave but I got very excited once that morning came.

Being on the road for 6 and a half hours wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. There was television, Wi-Fi, outlets to charge your phones, iPod’s, etc. It was nice! Once we arrived in Sacramento we gathered our bags and waited to settle into our rooms…that wait felt longer than the bus ride.

There was barely enough time to sleep in the great days ahead of us. We got to meet YouthBuild students from all over, A.V. YouthBuild, Compton YouthBuild, Oregon YouthBuild, San Fernando Valley YouthBuild, and YouthBuild Institute…there was plenty more, and I even saw some familiar faces. We had the chance to rotate around because they wanted us to interact with everyone and know that this was our family. There were ice breakers, folders with information inside, and games to play. It was also a chance for anyone who was willing to run for CSTAC, an alumni council. We had dinner (which tasted awesome) then headed to our rooms, had a talk and went to sleep. Everyone had to be up early because they had a lot planned for us. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner served to us. We got colors placed on our name tags and whichever color you had that was the group you had to be with. In our groups we were all sent to different workshops. In one of the workshops we learned about different “-isms,” adult-ism, sex-ism, racism, etc. It was good learning about these things that most of us do every day without realizing it. Later that night we had a celebration for all of us YouthBuilders and played games, had karaoke, and gave prizes to the winners.


Our students met with Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian for an in-depth conversation where they shared personal stories, the importance of Cloud & Fire YouthBuild, leadership, community needs, and advocating for more funding through a specified legislature.

Our last day in Sacramento, we met Adrin Nazarian, an assembly member of the forty-sixth district for Van Nuys, Ca. We got a tour of the “white house” of Sacramento (State Capital). The Governor’s office was there, along with pictures of Arnold S., Jerry Brown, Ronald Reagan, and many more. We learned about how the government was back then, and we saw the safe from 1846, I believe. There were also spit cans by the chairs where they wrote laws and those were used for the men who chew Tobacco. We got to hold imitations of the silver coins that were $20.00 back then which was a lot in those days.

Everyone from my YouthBuild took pictures, played card games, and talked about how this experience would change our lives and not to mention give us more knowledge. One thing I loved about this trip was a saying they had us do: “YOUTHBUILD YOUTHBUILD HOW YA’LL FEELIN’?”  And we’d say “IGHT IGHT!” I’ll keep that locked in my head for life! After visiting the State Capital we said our goodbyes. Overall I am glad I didn’t back down and got to live this chapter in my life. I would do it all over again if we had the chance tomorrow!


About the Author

Angel Telphy is a current YouthBuild student and part of the YouthBuild Policy Council (YBPC).