Alumni Spotlight: Kara Chen

Kara Chen is a San Francisco resident who dedicated herself early in life to the pursuit of an education and a bright future. Motivated and hard working, she strove to make her immigrant parents proud by seizing every opportunity for a higher education. Kara attended Marina Middle School and Washington High School (both in SFUSD). In 2013, she entered Cal Poly (in SoCal) as a marketing major. Although moving away from home was difficult, she persevered and focused on the college experience, which included the chance to study abroad for her sophomore year. Kara chose London. The decision to venture further into the world begot yet another opportunity, one as a marketing intern with a company called IQPC, where she managed social media, proofread agendas, and shadowed the marketing team to get a glimpse of different roles within the career. A second internship followed at the Children’s Creativity Museum upon her return to San Francisco. Kara’s junior year was remarkable on a personal level. She applied for the role of an orientation leader, and acceptance gave her the moment to honor the First Graduate program. Just as FG had done for her, she would guide a new generation of high school graduates in assimilating into the college culture and help them to overcome doubts so that they could move onward.


Kara is part of cohort 7. Of her fond memories at First Graduate, the encouragement of mentors and the welcoming atmosphere they created stand out. Their confidence in her was fundamental to developing the skills of resume building and career planning, both of which continue to be essential in her life. The visits FG organized to college campuses in SoCal also bear special meaning to Kara. Each one assured her that the future she envisioned of a community where she could flourish was taking form at last. 


Due to dedication, persistence, and hard work, Kara landed her first job the day after she graduated from Cal Poly. She had applied to various places and was excited by the swiftness she gained employment. Kara currently works at Toptal as an Enterprise manager. Her role consists of running all of the paid advertisements and green lighting testing methods to increase the Enterprise clientele. 


Kara is highly experienced with the processes of college applications and acceptances. Initially, she struggled between two colleges to attend – Cal Poly and Chapman University (both in SoCal) – and chose the one that provided more opportunities and networking. She advises students that uncertainty is part of the process, but ultimately, the deciding factor should be a college that would be instrumental to achieving long-term goals. When students are “waitlisted,” this means they have a 50/50 chance of acceptance. During the waiting period, students should consider other options and remain open to safe schools. Kara states, “College is the best four years of your life, and you want to make the best decision for your future.”

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