Community Stories, Eden Updates

Coming Full Circle

October 29, 2021

Jennifer moved to Tennyson Gardens with her mother after her parents divorced. Although she was a child when they moved, she could feel the stress of her family’s financial situation. She says that living in an Eden community provided more than affordability but also convenience and stability. In the beginning, her mom was paying rent on her own and could still afford food and other basic life necessities.

After moving to Tennyson Gardens, they could spend more time together as a family. She says that she appreciated the safety of her community and playing with other kids on the playground. Her family also participated in community events, which brought a sense of connection. They also took advantage of Resident Services reading and financial literacy programs. And, perhaps most importantly, Jennifer was able to attend a Title 1 high school that she believes helped improve her success as a student.

I really want to emphasize that because our housing was affordable, it made my parents’ life easier, and my life was easier too, not as stressful, giving me the time to focus on school.

Jennifer is the recipient of two scholarships from Eden’s Howard T. Collins Memorial Scholarship program. She recently graduated from the University of California Merced with a BA in Political Science.

“As a first-generation college student, I didn’t have the privilege of having a family with a lot of education. However, I think my family has brought me up well in the sense that regardless of their education level, they always encouraged me to excel in school and accept opportunities.”

Currently, Jennifer has relocated to Sacramento, where she is gaining experience as a legislative intern for the Office of Assemblymember Grayson, California State Assembly, District 14. There, Jennifer had the opportunity of being the lead staffer on Assembly Bill 447 (Grayson), which would expand the eligibility of low-income housing projects to receive tax credits—especially critical due to the extreme shortage of affordable housing in California. This bill was among 31 that Governor Newsom signed into law, bringing Jennifer’s life full circle.

“I’m almost there with supporting myself, hopefully by next year,” she says. “It’s super competitive. I tried to get a job and then took the internship. I also need the legislative experience which I’m getting now, and it’s great to work on a bill that supports affordable housing.”

In 2019, she was an intern for the State Superintendent Tony Thurmond in the Superintendent’s Executive Office at the California Department of Education; and she has also worked as an intern for the City Attorney’s Office at Hayward City Hall. The combined demands of pursuing academics and internship work are significant.

Because of the scholarships I was given through Eden Housing, I could afford to pursue these internships, which have provided me with amazing mentors, connections and friends.

Jennifer’s goal is to find full-time work, stay in Sacramento for 3-4 years and then go back to graduate or law school. Now she is working hard to gain experience, expand her network and explore potential career paths. Her academic perseverance despite financial and COVID challenges, commitment to public service, and outstanding character inspire many.