BARS Welcomes Katherine Secaida To Talk About Life Experiences And Incarceration

Alex Esparza and Kayla Wilson

Katherine Secaida ’16 works as a paralegal in an office in Century City. Her mother worked as a nurse, and her father, who worked at the docks in Marina Del Rey, was eventually incarcerated. 

“To be honest, I never really thought I’d see myself in Century City in a corporate world, and it’s very different and challenging to be around certain individuals, but it does get better,” she said. 

She’s now studying for the LSAT and wants to pursue a career in entertainment or criminal law.

Secaida spoke at a BARS meeting Tuesday, October 4 about her experience growing up with an incarcerated parent.

The club is led by former Venice English teacher Dennis Danzinger along with his wife, Amy Friedman, and has been around for about 10 years.

They hope to provide a safe space for the people and their families that have been impacted by incarceration. 

With their weekly Tuesday meetings, the organization has worked on providing a place for people to come in and speak and think freely along with having them express themselves either on by writing or speaking on it. 

With an emphasis on writing, BARS also publishes books that feature student work.

Growing up in the Mar Vista Gardens, Secaida said that she had to live through countless gun violence acts and lockdowns, which felt normal because of how often it had happened. 

This environment impacted her school and home life along with the problems going on at home. 

“I remember struggling in most of my classes. With everything going on at home – it took a real toll on my performance at school”

Without a father who suffered from an addiction to alcohol and was incarcerated, and the incarceration of her father affecting the way she acted with the people around her along with her grades. 

She was in emotional support therapy throughout middle and high school, and was once almost kicked out of middle school due to an altercation. 

Cicada recalled one day when she was pulled out of class by police and the principal. She was in handcuffs for more than six hours in a holding cell. 

“I remember them reading me my Miranda rights, at that moment I knew I was in trouble, but I fully didn’t understand what was happening or what they meant,” she said.

With the help of Dennis Danzinger, Secaida got the support she needed, and the people in BARS gave her immense guidance throughout her time at Venice. 

“I worked hard,” she said. “I think I deserve better and everyone deserves better.” 

 She concluded her heartfelt presentation with an excerpt from a published book she had written called, “My Father’s Addiction.” She shared additional encouraging words, and made it clear that anything is possible if you work hard for it.

 “Just know you have opportunities in front of you,” she said. “No matter where I am, I’m still able to achieve my goals.”