Sheryl Lee Ralph is all about the next generation
She wants her children to have the same kind of education that she received at her alma mater, the University of Southern California, and at the University of California at Berkeley, where she majored in education. With a degree from one of the nation’s most liberal public universities, she now wants her children to have the same kind of education that she received.
“I wanted to be a professor,” she said, “and I grew up in the Bay Area knowing my parents went to school here.”
Though she did not attend classes at the University of Southern California, she studied on campus and lived on campus. She took classes in her home town, and once lived in the dorms, which offered only four walls, one-wall lockers and a small bathroom – and it was there that she learned to love her room, where she would come home after work and listen to her parents discussing her education.
“I didn’t know it would be there for me,” she explained. “I wanted that education, I wanted that experience – that’s why I do it.”
Growing up in the Bay Area, Ralph said, she knew the opportunities for good jobs were thin, but she realized education was a way to create stability, create success and have a family that could provide for her and her family.
After graduation, she took a teaching position in a middle school in San Jose and worked part time as a substitute teacher and assistant guidance counselor at a middle school in Oakland. She taught fourth grade for a couple of years. Then she had a second child.
“I decided my job as a mother was done and I just wanted to go back to school and finish my education,” she explained. “I just felt like I needed to go back and to learn.”