'Shadow A Student:' Marina HS junior Cindy Fernandez and MPUSD Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Cresta McIntosh

Cresta and Cindy
MPUSD Associate Superintendent Cresta McIntosh (left) and Marina High School junior Cindy Fernandez (right) catch up on what it's like to enroll in dual enrollment courses through a partnership with Monterey Peninsula College.
Administrators at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District greatly value student voice and opinion.

Many decisions are made each school year by our administrators. District leaders say they strive to make student opinion a focal point when deciding where to allocate resources and funding.

On Wednesday, October 19, 2022, MPUSD Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Cresta McIntosh revisited a student she first met with during the 2017-2018 school year. Marina High School junior Cindy Fernandez was a 6th grader at Los Arboles Middle School when Cresta first joined her for MPUSD's 'Shadow A Student' day. Now five school years later, Cresta and Cindy reunited to catch up and learn from each other.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for her to be here. After 5 years, it's so great because she saw me experience 6th grade…and now I’m in 11th and now it’s a different mindset, a different mentality, coming into high school, how I prepare myself for college. It’s amazing that she’s here and I thank her that she’s here," said Cindy.

Watch Cindy and Cresta reunite at Marina High School:

During their time together, Cresta followed Cindy throughout the day, sat next to her during class, listened to her ideas, met some of her friends, had lunch together and agreed to keep in touch.

“I think the experience of shadowing a student is amazing because I can actually feel like a student and experience the student experience. But I think the opportunity to reconnect and just hear all of what she’s overcome and what she’s been thinking through and the support she’s had and hasn’t had and just some ideas and needs that she has as she’s preparing for college, I think it just…makes me a little emotional just to see how far she’s come," Cresta said. "She’s such an amazing human and I’m finding a lot of gratitude being here with her today but also just seeing how far she’s come just gives me a lot of hope.”

Cindy says she will become a first-generation high school graduate in her family. She aspires to go to college and is interesting in studying nursing. She says she’s grateful to have people like Cresta, to help guide her as she makes these big decisions.

“It feels that people do actually care for you and that you have a voice, and that people will actually listen. And it feels amazing that you actually have people that you can go up to,” Cindy said.

Watch Cindy and Cresta's visit during the 2017-2018 school year (Courtesy: Monterey Herald/Produced By: Juan Reyes)

During their day, Cindy and Cresta talked about a wide-range of topics, covering everything from enrolling in her dual enrollment courses through Monterey Peninsula College to social-emotional practices for personal growth. Cindy also shared ideas she has about making the path to college easier for students who will come after her.

“I think there’s some things that she’s identifying that can be a little bit of a barrier sometimes too. So that’s really helpful to think about ways in which we can make access to being career or college ready easier for our students,” Cresta said. “That’s the impact that I can have, is really thinking through what can that look like in our systems so that all students can see themselves in a space of belonging but also on a trajectory that’s going to help them in the future.”

Cindy hopes to make her parents and younger brother proud by going off to college. But mostly, she hopes to make herself proud knowing that confidence will also benefit her family in the end.

“It feels good to show my parents that I’m going to go off to college and they’re going to see me graduate,” Cindy said.

As an administrator, Cresta says she aspires to help more students achieve success like Cindy as they navigate their own educational experience at MPUSD schools.

“Cindy has some amazing goals and aspirations and it's lovely to hear that she’s really being intentional. She’s got plans in place and she’s got goals in place and she’s really trying to work on each one of them. I think the more that we can support our students in thinking that way and knowing that they have so much to offer our systems as well as our community, I think is key,” Cresta said.