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Girl Summit

Speakers & Performers

Keynote

Carissa Gonzalez Phelps graduated from UCLA with a law degree and an MBA in June 2007. She was one of only a handful of students to complete the dual degree program. Today she is a senior investment analyst in private equity. Carissa's road to success is eye-opening. When she was a child, she was abandoned at the juvenile hall in Fresno. Thrown into group homes, Carissa ran away and ended up on the streets. Homeless and alone, she begged and stole to survive. With no one to turn to, she was forced into the dark world of prostitution. She was 12.

Carissa started to turn her life around when a caring juvenile hall counselor reached out. He inspired Carissa to believe in her own potential. Carissa finished high school, attended community college and ultimately transferred to CSU Fresno, where she graduated summa cum laude. Carissa enrolled in law school with the goal of changing the world for at-risk youth.

Today she is sharing her story to raise awareness for a population that has been invisible for too long. She is the subject of an upcoming documentary short, "Carissa," directed by fellow UCLA student David Sauvage and executive produced by an Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker. In conjunction with the film, Carissa has partnered with two major corporations to spread the word. She is a spokesperson, with the singer Jewel, on the issue of teen homelessness for The RE*Generation, Virgin Mobile USA’s pro-social marketing campaign. She is also working with the Los Angeles Dodger’s Dream Foundation to inspire mentors for at-risk youth in the greater LA area.

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