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Zeena Schreck advocates free education

By Bethaney Lee

Renowned multimedia artist and spiritual guide Zeena Schreck credits City College as being a key life factor for her in 1979, when the college still offered San Franciscans the free enrollment Proposition W strives to reclaim.

“Had CCSF not been a free college when I attended, there would have been absolutely no way for me to attend,” Schreck said.

Like many college students today, Schreck had a past that desperately needed an education and alternative choice to what she calls a stifling, dysfunctional family life.

Zeena Schreck pictured in 1979, five years before college students like herself would no longer have access to a free education at City College. (Photo courtesy of Zeena Schreck).
Zeena Schreck pictured in 1979, five years before college students like herself would no longer have access to a free education at City College. (Photo courtesy of Zeena Schreck).

She became a mother at the age of 14. Just two weeks after delivering her son, she was forced to move with no financial support from her parents or her child’s father.

“I was desperate to find a way out of what seemed a hopeless situation,” Schreck said. 

At 15, she took the high school equivalency test, which at the time would allow her to leave high school, work legally and enroll at a college. Passing the test at 16, she started working and immediately enrolled at City College.

Able to take drama and gymnastics classes at no cost, Schreck recognized the pivotal role the college played for her.

“Had I not been given the chance to have the tuition-free arts education at CCSF that I did at that crucial junction in my life, I would have missed out on a very important link in my artistic development,” Schreck said.

“As a society we have really let down people who are in their 20s, and even people into their 30s and 40s,” said Tim Killikelly, the president of City College’s faculty union, the American Federation of Teachers 2121.

He added, “Like the single mom who is going to school, who we should provide with the right resources so she can get out of school sooner, get a job and spend time with her family.”

Though Schreck has gained much fame and success since her enrollment, she remains well-rehearsed in the realities faced by the youth of San Francisco.

“I know that there are many other young people who also experience such discouragements and hindrances,” Schreck said. “In instances where families fail young creative people and there are no state-supported educational possibilities like CCSF was to me, then I fear that that is a recipe for disaster.”

Voters will get to choose whether to raise taxes on real estate over $5 million to make City College tuition-free for all San Francisco residents. The proposition is expected to generate an average of $44 million in revenue should it pass. 

In the ritual of magic and sound, Zeena recently performed at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin on Feb. 26, 2016 (Photo courtesy of Zeena Schreck).
In the ritual of magic and sound, Zeena recently performed at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin on Feb. 26, 2016 (Photo courtesy of Zeena Schreck).

“I hear their stories,” Killikelly said. “Making college free for students would be an incredible boon to society for all of us, but especially to the ones already struggling. Prop. W is a really important element of that and a progressive vision of what we really should be doing for society.” 

Having left the city and moved to Berlin, Schreck has not kept up with local elections for what she calls a very long time. However, she said she would strongly support a free City College as a former student who benefited greatly from that privilege. 

Schreck often thinks back to how hard she had it because of personal challenges and can barely imagine how tough it is for those with similar personal hardships, yet no financial support.

In addition to supporting City College becoming free once again, Schreck encourages young art students to explore opportunities foreign countries that offer state support for the arts and universities. 

Musicians Anders Hermund, Zeena Schreck, and Hisham Bharoocha perform inside the Community Church of New York on Nov. 8, 2013 (Photo courtesy of Zeena Schreck).
Musicians Anders Hermund, Zeena Schreck, and Hisham Bharoocha perform inside the Community Church of New York on Nov. 8, 2013 (Photo courtesy of Zeena Schreck).

5 thoughts on “Zeena Schreck advocates free education

  • Norah Cagle

    In the old radio interviews from the 1980’s (from YouTube), Zeena said she was grateful for how unlike most single mothers, her parents supported her when she got pregnant by accident. In this interview, she mentions that it wasn’t so rosy, that they made her move out soon after her son was born, more like a typical family might do. Even worse, I’ve read the rumor that she was raped by her own father in three different books – from Lisa Carver, Burton Wolfe, and Marlin Marynick. In the Marynick book, Stanton himself promotes this rumor . . . maybe just to get attention . . . who knows? He and his girlfriend tried to beat up Lisa Carver for publishing such a rumor, of his being the product of incest, in the past. Some of us would like to know the truth of what took place with this family, since nobody has cared enough to ever write a biography of Anton LaVey that was actually honest, so far. I hope the rape rumor is not true. But I’ve always wondered why Zeena felt abused and had to get away. Something clearly went amiss, somewhere. If she truly was abused, sexually or even just psychologically somehow, then my heart goes out to her. I am very glad that she survived whatever her background really was, has made something of herself, and seems to want to encourage others to do the same. I wish there were still more free colleges for young women who deserve a chance. Kudos to City College for doing it back in the day. Anyhow, it’s clear that this young lady had a rough time, and it is inspiring to know that she pulled through it and seems to have such a good attitude now. Good interview.

  • Thomas MaIer

    Those who know/knew Zeena’s mother, Diane Hegarty/Diana Hall (aka, aliases Robert Anderson, Lana Green, John M. Kincaid, Wanda Slattery and all the other created identities Hegarty/Hall has used over the decades) recommend she respond to her daughter’s recent requests for contact directly, personally and privately rather than resorting to skulking in anonymous online trolling methods. Hegarty’s (Robert Anderson’s) own fictitious account of events in her daughter’s life should be called into question, considering that she has been medically diagnosed with dementia, has had a court appointed conservator and is legally deemed unable to make life decisions on her own or care for herself. Given her current medical and mental condition, it would seem that the care home which is providing Internet use to Hegarty would do well to monitor their patients’ online activities. At the very least, to avoid undue duress or embarrassment to Hegarty herself. The comment posted by “Robert Anderson” is only one of countless examples of Diane Hegarty’s years long campaign to consistently deny and discredit her daughter’s experiences in order to absolve herself of any guilt.

    • Bethaney Lee

      Thank you for this comment. I too believe my interview with Zeena was nothing, but sincere and forthcoming. I am grateful to have had the chance to discuss something so in depth with her and would not have reported something I felt wasn’t accurate. I understand the weight and amount of strength it took Zeena to afford me that interview and her voice and perspective is what the story was supposed to capture. No one can say how she felt, except her, and that is what was accurately reported on in this article- Zeena’s thoughts and a snapshot of her life from the only person reputable enough to talk about it- herself. Thank you again for your comment, most appreciated.

  • Robert Anderson

    Those who knew the LaVey family remember how relieved and grateful Zeena was that her parents were so accepting and supportive of her and proud of their new grandson. Zeena’s mother cared for the baby while Zeena worked at a local bakery, earning spending money and having a pressure-free work experience. They did not want her to pass her days at home with no outside stimulation. I remember the time well as I was a close friend and visited frequently. It was heartwarming watching baby Stanton’s early development. Zeena’s family was thrilled with him and very loving toward mother and baby. Many family friends, then and now, would question Zeena’s motivation for her fictitious account. She was not a lonely single mother struggling to care for her baby. She lived at home with the the loving support of her parents. Zeena’s mother, Diane, told me that her only worry initially was any possible health risk of Zeena’s pregnancy at her young age. She attended classes with Zeena, who had expressed an interest in natural childbirth. All who knew the family expressed admiration and delight.

    • Bethaney Lee

      Thank you for the comment! As a journalist, I am hear to listen and record the story of my source accurately and from their unique perspective. I feel Zeena was nothing, but sincere in her feelings and quotes given for this article. I was happy to have had the honor of speaking with her about this topic and do not feel she in any way exaggerated her tale or the depth of her feelings about her intimate and very personal situation.

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