‘Eager and ready’: CCC brings on new staff and student support

Erika Pistoni has replaced Mary Jacobs in the CCC

Erika Pistoni has replaced Mary Jacobs in the CCC

Jahan Ingraham

Erika Pistoni 

Pistoni is the admin assistant in the College and Career Center (CCC) this year, a job filled by Mary Jacobs for many years prior. 

“I book the appointments with the college representatives, manage their meetings with students, in person or online,” Pistoni said. She communicates with seniors and parents, and will begin talking to juniors this spring.

This is her first year working in this position at the CCC, but Pistoni has been working in the district since 2020, before COVID-19 lockdowns. 

“I took a test to enter the district … and they hired me as a sub on Friday, and on Monday we were on lockdown,” Pistoni said. “That weekend I was so happy, like ‘Yay! I’ve been hired, I got some work,’ And then no one worked for two years.”

As school reopened, she worked in various positions such as substitute teaching and as the student record assistant, maintaining academic records. When the admin assistant position became available, she was happy to take it.

“I really enjoy being with students, so I really pushed to be here,” Pistoni said. She hopes to carry on the tradition and add smiling faces to the photo wall Jacobs left up at her old desk.

Erika Pistoni has replaced Mary Jacobs in the CCC.

Sakima Williams helps students find jobs and internships in the CCC.

Sakima Williams helps students find jobs and internships in the CCC.

Jahan Ingraham

Sakima Williams

For Williams, a new CCC counselor, “(the) goal is to be a part of the new legacy of Berkeley (High) … and the amazing talent that’s about to come out of here.” Williams also teaches two classes at BHS: Pop Culture: Inventing Hip Hop, and Audio Recording and Engineering.

In the CCC, Williams helps students find jobs and internships. He has a list up on the center’s wall with potential jobs available to teens in Berkeley. In his role, Williams emails students about opportunities for jobs and internships. 

“(I) also bring industry into the school to do pop ups and signups, for everything from auto mechanics to bioengineering … both within the city of Berkeley as well as the Greater Bay Area,” Williams said. 

Previously, Williams worked in audio recording and music production. He also worked as a counselor for alcohol and drug prevention, and as an advocate for African American male achievement. 

“I’ve been in youth development for the last 25 years,” Williams said. “I dodged bullets in Rodeo at the refinery in the housing projects, all the way to playing guitar for kids … in an after school program.”

Williams struggled as a student with learning disabilities, and the experience of “educational trauma” gave him “insight into what young people go through.” As a teacher, he understands the purpose of his work at BHS is to be a part of the school’s legacy.

“Now is the time that I step back and facilitate the opportunity for young people to do it themselves,” Williams said. “Because let’s face it, music, revolution, change, everything comes from y’all, not us.”

Sakima Williams helps students find jobs and internships in the CCC.

Maya Martinez is an 'intensive advisor' for about 100 BHS students.

Maya Martinez is an ‘intensive advisor’ for about 100 BHS students.

Jahan Ingraham

Maya Martinez 

Martinez is the new College Adviser Fellow in the CCC. 

“I don’t have a whole repertoire of being a counselor, but I’m still eager and ready to get things going,” Martinez said. Working with the Destination College Advising Corps and the Early Academic Outreach Program (DCAC EAOP), she assists low income, first generation, and underrepresented students with support to reach college goals. 

Martinez supports about 100 students with “intensive advising,” making sure they meet requirements and preparing them for the college process. 

“I remember when I was about to go to college I was like, ‘Out of sight, out of mind,’” Martinez said. “We want to familiarize people with (the college process) … so that way it’s not like a scary monster under the bed.”

Martinez is a graduate from UC Davis, interested in education. At Davis, Martinez was a teacher’s assistant and planned to become a teacher. That door is still open; College Adviser Fellows in the DCAC EAOP program stay for a few years.

Martinez has big goals to equip her students with as much expertise as possible. 

“I would love to see a lot of people … not only being enrolled but actually getting some fruit from (the program),” said Martinez. “Because let’s be real, college can affect you for the rest of your life. I want to inspire kids, and make sure that y’all are equipped in the best way possible.”

To learn more about the program visit  @EAOPDCACBHS.

Maya Martinez  is an ‘intensive advisor’ for about 100 BHS students.