Most low-income college students—four out of five—won’t earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-twenties. Life gets in the way, especially for poor and first-generation college students. Stephanie Bravo, the first in her own family to attend college, set out to change that.

While enrolled in the Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance Medical Mentorship Program as an undergrad at San Jose State University, the South Bay native founded a free online mentorship network. connects thousands of students across the country with professionals willing to mentor them. We reached out to Stephanie to find out what she’s up to lately:

What brought you to San Jose?

My mom brought me into the world and San Jose was my first destination. I still have to thank her for choosing such a great birth city.

What do you do for a living?   

Social media by day; I’m the Assistant Director of Social Media at Santa Clara University. And Founder/President of the ed-tech organization, I live online most days, but I like living in real life connecting with people and nature so much better.

What led you to get into the mentorship business?

My first experience with a local mentorship program piqued my interest in mentoring. Bringing this age-old concept into the 21st-century came about due to our positioning in Silicon Valley and our millennial values of creating a big social impact.

What projects do you have in the works right now?

Big ones are in stealth mode right now so if I tell you I’d have to … you know what. Most days I’m just trying to make the world a better place by living aligned with my purpose and helping others attain theirs.

What inspires you?

People who are indefatigable in giving to others through positive actions, words, or intentions. My friends and mentors are such people who are using their big brains to tackle complex social problems and creating a better world for us all.

What do you like most about South Bay?

I can’t say there is one thing in particular, but what I absolutely love is that the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is coursing through the vein of the valley with its epicenter in the South Bay; it’s hard to live anywhere else because of it.

Where would you have your last meal on earth?

I hope my last meal won’t be on earth (wink wink, Richard Branson), but if it is I’d sample every single thing on the menu at Dish Dash in Sunnyvale. It’s hard to find a dish I don’t enjoy there.

Where is a cool place to take an out-of-towner?

Not many people outside of the area know that San Jose has a Japantown, but that’s the neighborhood my family has called home for four generations. There’s so much history to learn, cultural events to celebrate like the Obon Festival, and sushi to eat.

Name your favorite hole-in-the-wall place to grub?

I don’t regularly frequent holes in walls, but as far as small restaurants, I grew up in one (El Tarasco Mexican Food on Fourth and Taylor streets) so I know that San Jose has so many to be proud of. I like Zona Rosa because of their organic options and innovative dishes. 

Where’s the best place to get a cup of coffee in San Jose?

I don’t drink coffee, but I can speak to hot chocolate. Banana hot chocolate at Cocola in Santana Row hits the spot on a chilly day. And during Christmastime, I like the hot chocolate at Christmas in the Park.

Name your favorite upcoming San Jose event:

Christmas in the Park. Every year since I was little it’s been on my to-do list to make my rounds at the park, stand in awe of the big beautiful Christmas tree and see which floats are back in action.

Name three things every local should do this fall in San Jose:

1. Try a new restaurant downtown. So much has changed in the past few years, and I’ve tried some of the newer restaurants, like Cabrito’s and Billy Berk’s. But, I still have many restaurants to visit, like Nemea because I love Mediterranean food.

2. Enjoy the downtown ice rink and Christmas in the Park. You can get in the spirit of the season, have fun times with loved ones, and support a long-running tradition.

3. Talk a walk through Santa Clara University. The biggest change to the campus in decades, the new entry is the Abby Sobrato Mall—a beautiful pedestrian walkway leading up to the ethereal Mission Church. Walking around campus feels like a historic journey, and a spiritual one as well.
Finish this sentence:

San Jose is … unparalleled.