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By Adam Ramirez

David Miles was in the pitch blackness. He was in a dark cave in Yosemite with no light and the only way he could navigate out of it was with the help of his fellow San Francisco Achievers. Miles is from the Richmond District in San Francisco — where bears, caves and raccoons aren’t a common occurrence. For Miles and most of the other young men on the SFA Yosemite trip, this was their first time in any kind of wilderness. It was their first time away from the urban streets of San Francisco, first time smelling fresh air and hiking mountain passes. And they needed each other’s help to make their way out of the dark.

David Miles made it out – in a big way. A senior on the cusp of graduating from San Jose State University, Miles is a proud DSCN1299product of San Francisco Achievers.

One of his proudest moments, in fact, was the day he told his parents about the SFA scholarship he received.

“Ever since I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to do well in school with the hopes that one day I would receive a college scholarship,” Miles said. “When I told them about the SFA scholarship, it was one of my proudest moments. We felt like all of the hard work I had done in school had been validated. We were really very happy.” SFA provides mentorship and the opportunity to network with people that care about the success of the students in the program. For Miles, SFA has been a guiding force through is educational journey.

“SFA has been one of the most stable and consistent things in my life,” he said. “I definitely appreciate all of the support SFA has provided me over the years. This has inspired me to be part of a similar organization in the future when I’ve achieved some of the goals I have set for myself.

“Without all of the support that I received from SFA and Meritus, I know that college would have been much more difficult to navigate. This is why I will one day give back and help students who were in my same position.”

For many urban youth, the idea of going to (and paying for) college can seem as far off as the limestone cliffs of Yosemite. Many had never left the city when they found themselves far away from concrete and cell phone coverage. That is why one SFA arranges the Yosemite trip for students. It’s a way to broaden horizons and open up the students’ minds to other possibilities. Plus the students bonded and became closer with each passing day.

“I had an amazing experience being in nature out there with just the other students,” Miles said. “On the first day at Yosemite, I quickly learned that many of them were into rap music, since they would frequently freestyle. They were a lot like me.”

But it wasn’t all campfires and relaxation in Yosemite. The organizers pushed the young men to their limit.

“We all hiked great distances at Yosemite together,” Miles recalled. “We hiked up mountain sides, through rocky terrain and at night when it was pitch black with the threat of bears and raccoons around.

“I remember that one particular cave, it was pitch black. Navigating through the cave took teamwork and was a great bonding experience for all of us as we helped each other overcome this obstacle.”

Miles made it out, and now other young men are following in his SFA footsteps.

If you’d like to help continue this tradition of mentorship and scholarship, we’d encourage you to help in any way you can by clicking here. Whether it is volunteering your time or making a financial contribution, you can be sure the funds will go toward helping other young men like David Miles achieve their life goals.

-Adam Ramirez is an editor of legal content at FindLaw and a former journalist and judicial law clerk. While in school, he too benefited from scholarships aimed at young men with professional aspirations.

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