Clinay Cameron came into the world determined and fighting. She was born premature at 2 pounds 9 ounces to a family with 11 siblings or half-siblings. Things were hard at home.
“I'm from a low-income single parent household where drugs, alcohol and gang violence was prevalent in my environment. I didn't want to become a statistic, medically or demographically, and was determined to live a healthy life.”
She took the high road through moving away from Rialto, Ca, and pursued a new venture as student at UC Berkeley. She initially wanted to pursue a career as a medical physician, but realized that sports and fitness became the core of her passion and drive for her career which started in high school. She became a role model and advocate for living a healthy lifestyle, and started building personal fitness coaching clientele while she was finishing up her last term at Cal.
But when she unexpectedly lost her boyfriend in 2014, it all came to a halt. “Things changed significantly for me, and I just had to figure out a way to cope with the loss and take time to regroup.”
But like many Hack the Hood youth, Clinay is resilient. She found a mentor, lost the weight she gained during her grieving process, got in the best shape of her life, and started competing in Strongman competitions. She also finished a BS in Animation and Visual Effects Ex'pression College. But even then there were more challenges ahead.
“I officially graduated from Expression [College] and was really torn about whether I was going to move back to SoCal or stay up here and give it a shot. I admit that It was a rough couple months. No job, no source of income, no stable place to stay…”
At this point, Clinay enrolled in Hack the Hood. “Hack the Hood has helped me out a great deal. It provided me with another branch of community… Hack the Hood has definitely been a key support system.” Clinay made close friends in the program, and bonded with instructors and other staff. She met with Lisa, Hack the Hood’s case manager, who listened and helped her navigate her challenges. “She really goes beyond what she’s supposed to do. I really appreciate people like that.”
“I am glad that I stuck it out, because I feel like having an opportunity in Level Up and Tech Prep: Digital Marketing made me hone in on exactly what I want to do. Hack the Hood reaffirmed for me that I want to be my own boss.”
Hack the Hood instructors helped Clinay prep for her new business. “I was really grateful to meet Siobhan, who was the digital marketing instructor,” said Cinay. “She forced me to put my brand and web presence to another level. She was like, ‘You want to do this? Yeah, you’re GONNA do this with me.’ It was like she was like my digital marketing coach... Digital Marketing gave me a clear roadmap for how to build my brand.”
In Level Up, Isaias Rodriguez helped Clinay get ready to present her business to the world in person. “...You can tell that he really cares about the youth and the students. He kept forcing us to pitch. I think I‘ve done at least eight different presentations. Trying to set out a clear idea and being confident in explaining it is important, and I think I’ve done very well since I’ve practiced interviewing with Hack the Hood. It makes me feel more confident to do that at a larger scale with people who might want to invest in what I want to do.”
After participating in Hack the Hood, Clinay’s world has changed drastically. She got connected to Kiva.org, and successfully raised an $8,000 loan to fund her coaching business, with many Hack the Hood staff and supporters on her investor roster. She also landed an Account Executive job at Yelp in August 2017, where she works today.
“People showed up and showed out who were meant to help me. I’m really glad to have those people in my life and in my community. You just get so used to bad things happening to you, you just don’t expect it."
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