Intervention Specialist, Caught in the Crossfire
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Caught in the Crossfire Intervention Specialist Guadalupe Serrano-Lopez, AKA Lupe, grew up in East Oakland. There was drug dealing on her street; there was shooting. Lupe graduated from Sonoma State, in 2018, with a degree in Philosophy and pre-law. She worked internships at organizations that support women in prison and that work to reduce racial inequities. She worked the snack bar at a country club. With Lupe, you get the sense that she took none of these jobs lightly. Now her job is to help young people in Oakland who have been wounded by violence find a safe and healthy path to a future. Some have been shot, others wounded by the constant, oppressive weight of growing up and going to school where violence is a daily reality. They are struggling academically, emotionally. Some are beginning to break the law. “There are a lot of people who need help,” says Lupe. Like all Youth ALIVE! field staff, for Lupe, her work with young victims is more than a job, it’s a mission. She says being young herself helps her connect with her clients. But it takes more than that. Young people need to sense the depth of your commitment if they’re going to trust you. So Lupe opens up. “I tell them my story,” she says, “my mistakes.” She tries to keep her clients busy, to introduce them to many new experiences, whatever it takes to help them withstand the peer pressure. “They see: ‘Somebody really cares about my life, about where I’m going.’” Lupe says she gives them “a key to a new, a successful path.” The work is tough but rewarding. “My heart feels good when I see them doing better.” Lupe believes law school is in her future; she hopes to someday practice immigration law. No doubt it will be more than a job to her. It will be a calling.