The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Adam Freas: City College counselor combines hip-hop and education to help others

Adam Freas in PAC 113 recording studio. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2015. Christopher Williams, Staff Photographer. |
Adam Freas in PAC 113 recording studio. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2015. Christopher Williams, Staff Photographer. | [email protected]

Ever since childhood, Adam Freas says he’s acted like a sponge, soaking up everything in his surroundings. He uses
self-knowledge and experience as inspiration to help others, applying it to his career as a counselor and professor.

Freas, 41, says that being surrounded by students wanting to change either themselves or the world is what motivates him, and he’s honored to be able to collaborate with students on their journey throughout college and life.

Freas also says he finds inspiration everywhere, whether in something as simple as music or his 3-year-old twin boys. He also says that it’s empowering to be able to collaborate with students who are looking to change their circumstances and family histories.

As a former City College student- turned-professor and a current Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (E.O.P.S.) counselor, Freas used his position to to start “Fostering Futures,” a program in which he works with former and current foster youth.

From 1998 to 2013, Freas was also part of a band called the Addict Merchants, where he honed his performing and rapping skills. He later put those skills to work when he teamed up with fellow E.O.P.S. counselor Ken Times to start the non-profit Low End Theory Collaborative, which has brought the Rock the School Bells event to City College
the past three years. The program fuses hip-hop and education as a teaching tool for soon to, be college students.

Times and Freas say they’ve bonded over their love of hip-hop culture.

“The first time I heard him rhyme was with his live band, Addict Merchants,” says Times, of one of his favorite memories of Freas over the years.

From there, Freas and Times attended grad school, participated in an internship together, helped establish Low End Theory Collaborative and eventually got hired at City College.

“Through it all, hip-hop culture and education have been recurring themes — now we’re family,” says Times.

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“Adam Freas’ powerful, positive energy is inspiring. Whether that may be in education, the arts or being a better person who can roll with the punches,” says Fisk, who works closely with Freas on art collaborations for different events such as Rock The School Bells.

Freas says he can talk about hip-hop all day. He says he was influenced by ’90s-era hip-hop collective Native Tongues. He’s also a huge fan of the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Recently, Freas says he is appreciating Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” album.

“Where I’m at as just a person, in— terms of my understanding and engagement with music—he released something that spoke to me directly,” Freas says of “To Pimp a Butterfly.”

He says he soaks up experiences, such as listening to a classic record, like a “sponge” and applies them to everyday life, making his presence deeply felt around the E.O.P.S. office.

Nancy Arashiro, an E.O.P.S. counseling clerk, has worked with Freas for nine years and says she has witnessed firsthand the benefit of his wisdom.

She recalls a time when an upset young woman came into the E.O.P.S. office. Arashiro didn’t want the woman to leave the office without having hertalk to Freas. After some time, the student left the office grateful that she had spoken to him.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with [Freas] because he has a really nice attitude,” says Arashiro. “He will take whatever time to help a student, whether they’re stressed or not stressed, personal or academic.”

Freas says he is a firm believer that people can be themselves in everything they do, and he hopes to pass that ideal on to his kids and students.

Freas says that his own struggles with education are what got him into teaching and made him want to be an advocate for people on a similar path. Helping such people is his contribution to society, with hip-hop and education acting as tools along the way.

Freas says students should find their passions and who they are and apply them, because “you should never have to lose that in whatever you do in a career.”

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