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Success Stories

 

We are proud to applaud the many achievements of our US Alumni.  US Alumni, who participated in our programs, have achieved great success such as pursuing and receiving a college education, securing employment in the non-profit or renowned corporate industries, and more.  Click on the pictures below to read highlights from just a few of our many accomplished Alumni:

US-Youth Centered Program Alumni

Tameka Carter, an US Advisory Council member and alumna, came to US as a young student, homeless and with few opportunities for a way out. Now, Tameka is a Program Coordinator at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, having graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2006. Tameka has a passion for the arts and seeing youth realize their potential and worth.

Jey Rojas overcame many struggles including bullying. Jey found their voice and felt an immediate change. Click HERE to learn more about Jey’s experience with US.

We met Duc Ta at Central Juvenile Hall in 2000, when he helped write and perform the play “Far Away From Home” in our program. He was facing adult time in prison and was released after fifteen years. In prison, he obtained his college degree and vowed to himself that when he got out he would create an organization to serve Asian Pacific Islanders who were currently or previously incarcerated. Following his release, Duc worked with Amity Foundation Teaching and Therapeutic Communities to assist newly released Three Strikers in finding jobs and housing and graduated top of his class from the LA Kitchen Culinary Program with an internship at the Bazaar in Beverly Hills. Duc then stepped away from the culinary world to co-found his own non-profit, API RISE (Asian Pacific Islander Reentry and Inclusion through Support and Empowerment). When asked what advice he would give to other US participants, he stressed the importance of authenticity and pride. “Really go into this being authentically who you are,” he said. “Do not be ashamed of who you are, and do not be ashamed of what you might share or what you might expose about yourself. Just embrace it. Embrace who you are.”

Sophia Sou met The Unusual Suspects when she was in middle school in Maravilla, surrounded by frequent violence. Her first show was called Life between Love and Hate, as part of our Gang Intervention for Teens program in 2001. According to Sophia, US was her first exposure to being on stage and taught her to not be afraid. She admirably went on to study architectural design at UCLA and earn her MBA in technology and entrepreneurship through a program joint between Brussels and Paris. She is now in Paris where she works as a consultant in retail informational systems and dreams of building communal housing for young professionals. Sophia also feels that these experiences helped her express herself in the long run. Sophia was shy, but over the years she has been able to open up more and more to become the person she is today. “For sure, Unusual Suspects played a role in that.”

Lelandra Munoz, Unusual Suspects Alumna 2015-2019, was able to break through and found her voice through our programs. Lelandra used inpiration from her own life to work together with her fellow students in order to tell their story through their script. Lelandra interned with The Unusual Suspects in 2018 and is currently pursuing acting. Click HERE to learn more about Lelandra’s experience with US.

Julio Quijada, a US Board of Director and alumnus, was formerly incarcerated and now works in Post-Production at NBC Universal where he is following his dream of working in film development while pursuing a degree in Cinematic Arts and English at West L.A. College, and holds a Motion Picture, Television and Stage Crafts Certificate. Julio is also a member of Mayor Garcetti’s Los Angeles Tech Pipeline initiative which connects diverse student to careers in the fastgrowing technology sector.