20150829_112112_HDR-2-400x302Last month something life changing happened. Something that will undoubtedly change the projection of Joseph’s life. He stepped off a plane like many have before and arrived in the land of the free. Joseph is a teenage refugee.

For years Joseph and his family have been fleeing from the dangers of war. Ethnically Afghan his family has gone from Iran to Turkey and now to Sacramento. He has for the first time in years started school and is now trying to navigate much more than the halls of high school. He is trying to learn English, find friends and enjoy life as a free person.

This past weekend Joseph, his younger brother and a few friends joined StudentReach on a trip to the mountains where we enjoyed the classic American past time of camping.

Hiking, roasting marshmallows, kayaking and swimming filled 2 1\2 days. During our down time we had English lessons designed to provide insight about who everyone was and what they plan to do with their new life in America. Learning about who your fellow campers are is essential to long lasting friendships.

We may not have linguistically understood one another as we worked to overcome language barriers but we do understand that this camping trip was more than a past time. It was a start of a new way of thinking. It was the start of being apart of a community of people who will succeed together. StudentReach is helping students to define their lives, become contributing citizens of the communities near & far and to overcome obstacles – like fleeing from home to find safety in a new and unknown land.


 Written by: Raquel Shipp
 Development Director,
 a multi-site Alive Life Coaching coach
 and mother to the most
 adorable toddler on the planet.


For the past 4 months Adam and I have been able to be a part of the lives of some pretty incredible refugee students. The students who we have had the pleasure of presenting our American Life Coaching program to, are recent arrivals from places such as Turkey and Afghanistan. They all have unique and sometimes tragic stories, but most importantly BIG dreams. Through a Life Coaching program developed by StudentReach, we are able to be a part of turning those dreams into GOALS. Some of our students are striving to get to college, others are learning English and are on their way into the workforce.

20150520_160359_HDRIn addition to going over critical areas of career and college development we try our hardest to create a healthy community for our students to thrive in. To do this we also offer extra-curricular activities. A few weeks ago we decided to take everyone bowling. A few had some experience with the sport while others showed off their “natural talent”. It was amazing to see our students laughing, making friends and enjoying time outside of their apartments. There were a few students who nearly took the lane out beside us. Next time we may get them the bumpers!

StudentReach is an organization that helps students accomplish their goals regardless of the circumstances they may be coming out of or facing. As with all refugees, the students we work with often have stories that would be debilitating to most. Through our life coaching program we are fostering a mindset in our students, of accomplishment and citizenship in their new homeland.




Adam and Raquel Shipp have been working with students for the past 9 years, their work with refugees began 3 years ago. They work with StudentReach and are involved with student mentoring, school assemblies and volunteering abroad.