Ever since Caroline Barros, former Political Science major at Skyline College, was eight years old, she wanted to be a lawyer: “I like to read, I like to write, there is nothing else for me, except law school.” Today with the help of Skyline College and the International Student Program, she is well on her way, having just started her second year at Berkeley Law.
Caroline is originally from Brazil. However, after her father got a student visa in the United States when Caroline was eleven, she and her family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, as one of the only people of color, the environment wasn’t a good fit for her, “I was bullied a lot. It was just the worst seven years of my life.” Her grades suffered accordingly.
Despite this, San Francisco was a bright spot in her life. Caroline had the opportunity to visit San Francisco a couple of times and was struck by how diverse and welcoming the city was. She proclaimed to her family that she was moving to San Francisco no matter what. In the end, her status as the only child prompted her parents to move there with her.
Caroline was quite ambitious and aspired to go to Berkeley law. As a result, she wanted to go to a prestigious undergrad school such as UC Berkeley or Stanford. However, she couldn’t get into either and couldn’t afford the nearby colleges she did get into. As a result, when a friend told her about Skyline College and Caroline learned she could transfer to a four-year university afterward, she jumped at the opportunity.
Caroline ended up loving Skyline College, “It was a great experience. I always joke with my friends that we peaked at Skyline [College].” Caroline had always considered herself an introvert, but at Skyline College, she came out of her shell. She says, “everything that I wanted to be in high school, I got to be at Skyline [College].” She joined Model United Nations and Student Government as the Commissioner of Public Records. She also notes, “some of my best friends I met at Skyline [College].” The ISP had particularly great community-building events, including their International Food Festival.
Skyline College also helped her thrive academically, “I’m a good student, and I think at Skyline [College], I was really able to bring that out in myself.” Caroline remembers she had “so many great professors” who supported her along the way. She gives a special shout-out to Political Science Professor Jeff Diamond, “I took like three or four of his classes …[they] were just amazing.”
Caroline found even more forms of support at Skyline College. The International Student Program helped ensure that she was doing everything required to maintain her status and stay in the country. In addition, she took a UC application writing class, something she found useful during the college admissions process. She also had the support of a counselor who told her everything she needed to know about getting into UC Berkeley. In the end, it worked! And not just for Caroline, “I think all of my friends transferred to UCs from Skyline [College].” They went to places including UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and UCLA.
Nowadays, Caroline’s mother, inspired by her daughter’s positive experience, is a current Skyline College student. She has a Brazilian degree but wants something that counts in the United States. Caroline says, “she’s very excited about being at Skyline [College]” and notes that she loves her classes.
In addition, quite happily, Caroline has accomplished, “every single goal that I had in terms of academia.” She maintains, “even if I had been given the opportunity to start at Berkeley undergrad for my first two years I would have chosen Skyline [College] over that.” Skyline College and the ISP look forward to what she does next.
Article by Evelyn Rossi