By Christopher Scheer
Skyline class of 2009 alumni Mya Whitaker was one of three Oakland citizens on the selection committee for the new Oakland Police Chief. Their choice, respected reformer Anne Kirkpatrick, was introduced to the city Wednesday at a press conference where Mya spoke.
On January 5, Mya was as Skyline and speaking to a few of my debate classes about the hiring process, and to solicit feedback for the new chief from Oakland youth. She also has a cool opportunity for students: The new police chief wants to sit down and break bread with small groups of Oakland youth to hear their concerns.
To be sure, Mya was clear that everything the new chief said is only talk for now, and that the community will be watching to see if the troubled force can regain the communities trust after a series of scandals and a surge in the crime rate.
Mya also talked to my classes about how as a child she was a "nerd who read Harry Potter" until she was 13 and then she became a "thug" who fought all the time, went to all the "functions" and was almost kicked out of Skyline, and then even though she managed to graduate from SF State (after a baby, dropping out once and taking 7 years in all), it was a struggle. Mya believes high school had not prepared her for the rigors of college.
Mya now works as the fulltime Program Director at the Bay Area Urban Debate League, has a 4-year-old son who she is raising by herself, and still manages to serve on several city commissions, such as the police review board. She is also planning to run for school board in two years in District 6, which is extends from Skyline down to the Coliseum and the Nimitz Freeway.
Honestly, she is an inspiration to me, when teaching is hard. For those teachers in their first few years, you should know that you will all soon have alumni on your Facebook feed who will remind you why we struggle through tough days.
Below are links to photos and articles Mya was quoted in in newspapers across the country writing about the Oakland new Police Chief.