Empowering the Next Generation: The Inspiring Journey of Alena Byers from College to Community Leadership

The journey from being the first in one’s family to attend college to becoming a beacon of hope and leadership in the community is challenging and rewarding. As an alumna of First Graduate, Alena Byers’s current role at Juma Ventures in San Francisco exemplifies her commitment to giving back to the community, her story continues to inspire us.

As Senior Development Operations Manager at Juma, Alena oversees critical aspects of the nonprofit’s operations, ensuring legal compliance with fundraising regulations and coordinating finance and development efforts. Her work is crucial in maintaining the organization’s effectiveness in serving youth, a mission deeply resonant with her own experiences.

First Graduate played a pivotal role in Alena’s journey, providing the financial support necessary to bridge the gap in her college funding. This scholarship was more than just financial aid; it was a lifeline that enabled her to pursue higher education and set the foundation for her future success. Returning to First Graduate as a member of the Alumni Planning Committee highlights her commitment to reconnecting alumni with the community and fostering a supportive network for current and future generations.

At the core of Alena Byers’ story is a reality shared by many first-generation college students. She often communicates this with current first-generation students: “…college students should know that college is hard… It’s highly likely that you’ll hit a few bumps in the road and even scarier that you might even fail.” She continues “I think it’s most important to know not to let your failure stop you. The path to becoming the first in your family to graduate from college is paved with lessons learned from every fall.”

Her transition from college to career reflects a deep-seated desire to contribute to organizations that have a meaningful impact on the lives of young people. By choosing to work with nonprofits like First Graduate and Juma Ventures, Alena has dedicated her career to empowering the next generation, ensuring they have the support and opportunities needed to thrive.

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