I grew up in Escondido in a rough neighborhood, a neighborhood that resembles the Bronx. This neighborhood was full of gang violence and inuenced those living there to believe that their purpose in life was to stay in Escondido and fight the rival gang. I lived in this neighborhood for over 5 years and living here heavily influenced me. I always cared about my academics in school, but there was an inner change in me progressing. I began to slack off in school and starting believing since I was a student of color, I would be excluded from society. I started to believe that maybe my future would simply be living in Escondido and joining a gang. I continued to hang out with the wrong people and ended up paying the prices: I was detained a few times for violations of curfew and associating with people who were under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. It appeared to be that I would fall into the lifestyle of those living in my neighborhood.
I was a troubled kid with a stubborn attitude, but things changed in 2010. My baby brother Angel was born and I knew I had to change my lifestyle, so one day I could become his role model; however, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this alone and that’s when a miracle happened. I started 7th grade and was acquainted with Tina Medina and that’s when my whole life changed. Meeting Ms. Medina was a miracle in so many ways and I could not imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t meet her. I don’t know whether I would be attending University of California, Berkeley or would have been recognized as athlete and student of the year without her guidance.
I don’t know whether I would have been so motivated to be a change in the world if it weren’t for Ms. Medina.
When I went into her 7th grade class, I felt that she was a strict teacher, but the more I got to know her, the more I realized that she was much more than just an amazing teacher. She was someone you could go to when you were feeling stressed, depressed, or when you needed a friend. The bond I had with Ms. Medina continued to grow and then in 8th grade when I joined her on-campus peer leadership classI was able to grow a strong connection with her.
Becoming a peer leader was one of the best decisions I have ever made; this organization has made me the leader that I am today. Currently, I continue to work with the youth at a local middle school that is considered to have “at risk” students in our community. On a regular basis, I help these students with their class work but I also lead dialogues in social justice helping these students confront ethnic stereotypes and discrimination. I have invested a large amount of my time in mentoring these students, but I know that they will have a better understanding of their community as I have. They have improved vastly in academics and laying foundations for their moral compass and I am proud to say these students that I have mentored will become part of a movement in our society where we will thrive to be a truly equitable society.
All the volunteering I have done has been a great experience and I thank Ms. Medina for these opportunities. She has inspired me to have the desire to bring change in the world; she’s taught me that hard work will always pay off! I have learned much from Ms. Medina and I cannot thank her enough for everything she has done.
A natural rebel and rule interpreter, Tina has promoted social change since her youth, risking her reputation with bold fashion statements like shaving her head when she was only a freshman in high school. Tina spent much of her youth living, working, studying and volunteering abroad in humbling places like South Africa, India and Vietnam. With almost 30 countries and 20 states under her belt by the time she was 26, Tina got a good glimpse of a world that was full of both love and destruction. She realized at a very young age the meaning of global citizenship, the duty we owe each other as human beings, and the impact one person can have.
With 12 years teaching experience, Tina earned her Red Badge of Courage on the battlefields of some tough schools between South Central LA and San Diego. But she wanted more and felt confined by the four walls of the classroom and stifled by a bureaucratic education system. With a masters in peace and justice studies, Tina found her passions for education and peace align through restorative practices.
Tina lives in Vista with her beautiful family and two dogs, raising the next generation of rebel rousers and global stewards. If she’s not advocating for youth and educational reform, she’s probably cuttin’ a rug on some dance floor, melting in a hot yoga class, or sneaking a donut!
"Tina's approach is very effective, her experience and positive attitude are unmatched, and her passion for this work shines through in everything she does. Our community is a better place for having her working in this field."
“My teaching style has evolved due to restorative practices. Working with VIBE Movement has provided a new way of understanding student behavior. Positive relationships are established through restorative circles, which radiate throughout our curriculum and classroom environment. I recommend this practice and the movement to all fellow teachers!”
"I've known Tina for over 12 years, and she has proven time and again that to positively empower our youth is the key to initiate REAL change in our society."