The Asian Americans for Community Involvement and NBC Bay Area would like to honor, Crisanta Raras, as one of their Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Award winners.
Crisanta Raras is 20 years old currently attending De Anza College as a nursing major. A big challenge that she faced while growing up as an immigrant was adjusting to America’s way of living. She came to California in 1999 when she was just 5 years old. She needed to learn how to speak English so she was placed in ESL classes until she was in 2nd grade. During her 5th grade year, Crisanta was introduced to marijuana and instantly became addicted.
During her freshman year in high school, she was recruited for Project PLUS where she met the AACI counselors, Joma and Patrick. One day when her family was having financial issues, Crisanta approached Joma and asked him if he knew of any opportunities out there. If not, she was going to sell weed because it was easy to access. Fortunately, Joma told me there was an opportunity he had available through AACI RYSE (Resilient Youth Striving for Excellence) Afterschool program at El Rancho Verde Apartments. She accepted the offer and worked as a Youth Development Specialist Intern for 4 years. She now works as an actual Youth Development Specialist with the program.
The work Crisanta has done as an intern taught her what responsibility and accountability meant. She’s had younger youth than her look up to her and expect her to be there when needed, and she couldn’t let them down. AACI Youth Services is an important aspect in her life because everything she’s learned while being a participant in the program to working as an AACI employee has helped her make healthier decisions and grow into the empowered woman she’s become. If it wasn’t for AACI, who knows where she’d be now.
For more information about Crisanta Rarus or the other award winners, click here