Angela Sanchez of Glendale, California, was in 11th grade when, just before Thanksgiving, her Dad, an architect, lost their home because of family and financial problems. For a few months, she and her Dad slept in his car. Finally they found a shelter, but it didn't lessen the stress of poverty and homelessness. Through it all, Angela kept up her grades, and even started a magic club at her school, since she feels "a magician is someone who is withholding knowledge," and she needed hidden knowledge to get her life back on track. But during her senior year, the stress became too great. Her magic club fell apart and her grades began falling. Then something magical happened.
She discovered "School on Wheels," a non-profit that tutors children struggling with poverty. The non-profit paired her with an astrophysics grad student from Cal Tech. He helped her pass AP calculus, and also gave her "secret knowledge" about navigating the college application process. Result? She got enough scholarships to cover the cost of her education, and was accepted at UCLA, where she organized a "School on Wheels" chapter to help other kids who were in the same tough spot she'd been in two years earlier. "Our volunteers took care of everything from supplies to snacks to transportation," she says. "We would go over to the shelters and group homes at night and we would work there with the students." She later earned a Master's degree at UCLA.