Candance Miles, better known as AD, is a Bay Area native. AD was adopted into a white middle-class family and was raised in San Ramon, CA. Like any family, they had their disputes, but growing up black in a conservative, white family was a hard-hitting journey for AD.

Far left – AD with her Women Building the Bay peers

AD remembers overcoming the challenges with music. From a very young age, AD could always be found playing music, whether it was drumming (banging on pots and pans) or playing on her guitar. For AD, playing music was her outlet and passion. AD received a music scholarship to attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. “After hearing about a family death and learning about my parent’s divorce, it was really difficult for me to finish school.” AD was unable to complete her studies and moved back to California, but quickly found that cities like Oakland, and specifically the San Pablo neighborhood, were being gentrified, making them unaffordable for long-term, lower-income residents. “Gentrification is preventing me from having and affording a place to live,” AD said when asked about her housing situation.

“I joined Opportunity Build to better myself and my community”

Rising Sun Center for Opportunity is located in the Oakland/San Pablo corridor where AD found out about the Women Building the Bay program. When asked what brought her to this program, AD replied, “I joined Opportunity Build to better myself and my community.” Since entering the program, AD says, “I feel as though the instructors see my leadership potential and therefore assign me leadership roles within the cohort.” Often times, you can find AD teaching her peers math and construction concepts that can be harder to understand.

“I show up to Rising Sun with the best version of myself because I feel respected and I feel like this a place to respect.”

“I don’t want to be limited to a disadvantaged individual and I’m not interested in being viewed as limited.” Rising Sun believes that when people unleash their potential, they have the ability to grow, change, and make a difference in their communities. AD is an example of potential unleashed, a spectacular individual who refuses to be defined by circumstances that some may label as “disadvantaged”.

AD has this to say to people interested in joining the Opportunity Build program:

“Try to think about what you want to do before joining the program because you’ll get an opportunity to dip your toes into different trades, but it’ll be easier to place you with an employer or union apprenticeship if you know from the beginning what trade you want to be in and you’ll be able to devote more time focusing on mastering those skills.”

“I feel gratitude towards Rising Sun and I’m thankful for this place existing,” AD said when reflecting on Rising Sun. AD wants to live a well-balanced life where she can continue to play music and make a family-sustaining wage. AD’s short-term goal is to enter the carpenters union apprenticeship. Her long-term goals include designing and building concert halls, releasing a music album, and giving back to her community.