Meet Our Youth

A glimpse into the lives of our young people

The following five young people participated in our Operation Genesis trip to Ghana in March 2016. Before the trip, they wrote a bios about themselves and their career ambitions. Some of these stories are very personal and offer a glimpse into the lives of young people were severely set back by generational poverty.

Mike’l Gregory

Mike’l Gregory

I'm Mike'l Gregory, a 16-year-old proud Bayview resident. I am a game changer in not only my community but in every setting. Things were not easy growing up in the Bayview, but being the strong young man I am, I never let my circumstances affect who I can be. I strive for success and nothing less.

I am currently a rising sophomore at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, CA. After high school, I plan to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, if god allows it. I have many aspirations and goals I know I will accomplish with my hard work and dedication. Soon enough, I'll be Dr. Gregory.

Dexter Cato

Dexter Cato

Hi, my name is Dexter Cato. I'm 18 years old and I am a 2016 graduate of Gateway High School. High school has taught me many skills, like time management and overall life skills. Now I am prepared to take on my next challenge: college.

In the fall I will be attending University of California, Berkeley and majoring in Political Science. In the future I have hopes on becoming an FBI agent or a police officer. I am also interested in becoming a prosecutor. Giving back to my community is my primary focus, which is why these career paths interest me.

Destiny Cato

Destiny Cato

My name is Destiny Cato and I am 18 years old. I just graduated from Gateway High School. I'm on my way to Hampton University in Richmond, Virginia. One of the reasons why I choose Hampton to be my university was because since the start of my freshman year in high school I wanted to attend an Historically Black College or University (HBCU). I believe that attending an HBCU would be a better fit for me because I'll be surrounded by other African Americans who believe that education is the key to success. I'm going to be on a long journey at Hampton University and hopefully, it would be filled with greatness and success.

Makayla Mouton

Makayla Mouton

My name is Makayla Mouton and I am a rising senior at Phillip and Sala Burton High school. I am interested in going to UCLA to study psychology and bring my knowledge back to my community.

I grew up in San Francisco in Hunters Point and I can be the one to say it is not the best environment for a kid to grow up in. Although a lot of things take place in Bay View, it has made me who I am today. I would like to expand my knowledge by going to school because I would like to see change. I am constantly pushed to a limit on a daily basis, but even when I feel like giving up I never do because I like to think of the bigger picture, and even though my community isn't perfect I plan on coming back and improving it.

Life is more than what I can see now and I'm just waiting on my day to explore and to take all the adventures I can possible. I am a very determined person and will get what I want. Over the years I have developed a hard exterior but deep down I am very sympathetic. I’m just trying to make it in a world that is not so nice. A quote I go by everyday is, "You can’t see the better days if you haven't seen the worse ones." I believe this quote is true because by having pain you grow and when you grow you become a better you, and this is how I get by day by day.

Dontae Sullivan

Dontae Sullivan

It was rough for me growing up. I didn’t know my father and my mother was always on drugs, so she wasn’t stable to raise me. My mother and I were in and out of apartments, and weren’t living right, so when I was four years old I moved in with my grandfather in Daly City. But, my grandfather wasn’t a good person either. I didn’t have a bed. He had me sleeping in a cardboard box in his house. My grandmother couldn’t see me being raised like this so she came and picked me up.

Staying with my grandmother was much better, and she hasn’t abandon me like the rest. When I was 6 years old my mother passed away and I remember not crying. It didn’t hit me until a couple years later.

Having neither of my parents in my life hasn’t bothered me much, it just gives me more motivation to do better with life, school, and the goals I want to achieve. Now as a junior in high school, I can say I challenged myself by taking two AP classes and one Honors class. I also was on my school’s Varsity Basketball team and a little involved in my school’s Black Student Union and Black Boys Group.

I just want to make my family proud and provide for them. Although my talents in basketball may not get me all the way to the NBA, one of my goals is to play college ball. I think I am good enough for college basketball and I want to see my talents blossom in the college system. My ultimate goal (if not the NBA) is to become a fireman. This has been a goal of mine since the start of high school. I think I am fit enough for the


We asked some of our students what they got out of participating in Operation Genesis. This is what they had to say.

I found myself. I am a changed person.

Dontae Sullivan, 2016

After the trip to Ghana I realized I owe my parents an apology. I am going to change my attitude toward them and show my appreciation. Thank you so much for selecting me to go on this trip.

MiKel Gregory, 2016

I heard this saying, ‘No food for a lazy man’ from a guy at the hotel we stayed at in Ghana. It made me want to go take advantage of of all the job opportunities I have back in the States. I’m thankful for the connections and people I met on this trip.

Lynell Petterson, 2015

The trip to Ghana made me realize I owe my mom an apology. I have not been taking school seriously. I’m going to get my high school diploma because I want to make my mom proud of me.

Clenzell Bryant, 2014

I feel like I learned from this trip. I found my self worth as a person. I learned that I wouldn’t be here today were it not for my ancestors being so strong. I want to be strong like them.

Travis Holly, 2014

After the trip to Ghana, I looked at myself and saw somebody. If I step up and do what I’m suppose to do then I can be somebody,…and, I can help people around me be somebody.

Mika Henderson, Operation Genesis 2014

The trip to Ghana was amazing. It was a great learning experience. I really hope we stay together as a group. We are family now.

Domondre Snowden, 2014

What I got out of this trip is to not take my mom for granted. This trip made me better my life in so many ways. I am so thankful for the opportunity.

Jacqueline Barnes, 2014