From adult school to Columbia University

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  1. When SiLin Huang was a sophomore in high school, she had the world on a string. Huang, who emigrated from a provincial town in China at age eight, was a straight-A student. She played tennis and flute, competed in robotics and Quizbowl, and volunteered for Key Club. She was looking ahead to applying to college to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

    Then, a debilitating illness left her unable to complete high school. Two years later when she recovered, she discovered she could not re-enter high school to resume her studies.

    “I was staggered,” Huang says. “The thought of being unable to return to school was like having the path to my destination destroyed.”

    Yet Huang never relinquished her college goal. She enrolled at Castro Valley Adult & Career Education and completed two years’ worth of high school in one year.

    “SiLin was not only incredibly dedicated to completing her courses with the highest possible scores, she also contributed to our class by tutoring others in math,” remarks Adult Secondary Education department chair Megan Morgan.

    She also began applying to college with the help of the school’s Launch College and Career Success program.

    “It was inspiring to work with SiLin because her story was so powerful and because her parents, while supportive, couldn’t really help with the process,” notes Sharon Travers, college and career transition specialist.

    In November, Huang was admitted to Columbia University’s School of General Studies in New York City, which is focused on providing “non-traditional” students with access to one of the nation’s top educational institutions.

    Huang is thrilled about the prospects of attending Columbia.

    Although the cost of tuition makes her enrollment plans uncertain, she says, “It was amazing to get the admission envelope, and I feel an intense sense of accomplishment just being admitted.”

    Her experience made her a passionate advocate for adult education.

    “I am grateful to everyone at Castro Valley Adult and Career Education,” concludes Huang. “As an adult education student, I discovered the importance of equal educational access for all. I want adult students to know it is never too late to complete high school. I hope I can inspire others to never let go of their dreams and to accomplish their goals.”

  2. Here’s a link to SiLin Huang’s video for the 2014 Ronald McDonald House Charities U.S. Scholarship Program:

  3. ALAMEDA COUNTY — Twelve women will be inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame at the 21st anniversary luncheon and awards ceremony.

    The ceremony, hosted by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women, starts at 12:30 p.m. March 29 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 4700 Lincoln Ave. in Oakland.

    The inductees are:
    -Agnes Ubalde, an executive with Wells Fargo in Oakland, for business and profession.
    -Sallie T. Carey, who has provided food, clothing and other services to the poor in West Oakland for more than 40 years, for community service.
    -Liane Yasumoto, executive director of Culture Disability Talent, for culture and art.
    -Katherine Dunphy Guzman, a senior engineer at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, for education.
    -Jennifer Krill, executive director of EarthWorks in Berkeley, for environment.
    -Carol Brown, coordinator of the California Foster Children’s Health Project Task Force in Oakland, for health.
    -Monica Anderson, Youth Radio reporter, for justice.
    -Deborah Ale Flint, director of Aviation for the Port of Oakland and chief executive at Oakland International Airport, nontraditional careers.
    -Alba Witkin, founder of the Bernard E. and Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation, for philanthropy.
    -Arlene Blum, a chemist whose research into toxic flame retardants in furniture and other items led to new California standards, for science, technology, engineering.
    -Vanessa Hanley Lordi, who has recruited women athletes into the West Valley Track Club, for sports and athletics.
    -SiLin Huang, who was a straight-A student at San Leandro High School when a debilitating illness forced her to leave school, for youth.

    “Each of these outstanding women helps make Alameda County a place that is second-to-none in terms of its vibrant culture and rich diversity,” said Alameda County Administrator Susan S. Muranishi.

    Tickets to the luncheon and awards ceremony are $75. For tickets, go to To learn more about the inductees, go to

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