Leslie Hsu Freeman ’01
“I wanted to change the world in some way. Crossroads cultivated that in me.”
Leslie Hsu Freeman ’01, who started at Crossroads in seventh grade, knew she wanted to be involved in social justice. As a junior, drawing inspiration from volunteer outings at a Santa Monica food bank and at a continuation high school, Leslie founded a student club called SOUL to explore social justice issues. “My mission has always been to be a part of changing the structural barriers that prevent marginalized young people from being able to pursue their dreams,” she says.
Leslie now works for the Oakland Unified School District, where she manages a dual enrollment program that enables students to take community college courses at their high schools. “It’s a pretty powerful way for the high school district and our four local community colleges to talk together and do something about the barriers that have kept so many young people in Oakland from obtaining a college degree,” she says. The program, available at all Oakland high schools, serves about 2,000 students annually.
Leslie’s Crossroads experience influenced her career path. “My immigrant parents sold our house and moved us into a two-bedroom apartment across town to put me and my two sisters in Crossroads,” she says. “They wanted us to get the best possible education—they knew that that was the best gift they could give us in a world where not all things are created equal.” Leslie is working to provide opportunities, she says, “in the same way my parents and Crossroads did for me.”
While Leslie has seen firsthand the benefits of public education, she also recognizes the impact of attending Crossroads. “The opportunities, depth of experience and care I received at Crossroads were like nothing else,” she says. “I remember going to UC Berkeley and then Harvard for my master’s and thinking to myself, ‘I got lots of this and more at Crossroads.’”
Leslie believes Crossroads prepared her both academically and socially, developing more than her hunger for knowledge. “I wanted to change the world in some way,” she says. “Crossroads cultivated that in me.”