Mean streets to college
By Tracy Jan/The Boston Globe
November 29, 2009 – It can be lonely at times being a first-generation college student. And as a low-income high school student applying to college, the experience can be overwhelming.
Students can now turn to a new blog launched by the Center for Student Opportunity for support, advice, and inspiration. Four of the 10 bloggers attend New England colleges:
There’s Jesse Sanchez, who said he overcame gangs and poverty in San Diego to become the first in his family to attend college – at Harvard, no less. He hopes to become the first Latino mayor of San Diego.
Khadijah Williams, a Harvard freshman, writes of being a homeless high school student who used education as her way out of Los Angeles’s Skid Row.
Duylam Nguyen-Ngo, a budding entrepreneur, credits his single mother with inspiring him to enter Babson College despite growing up in a dangerous Richmond neighborhood.
And Lysa Vola, who was adopted at age 5 along with five of her siblings in Jensen Beach, Fla., is attending Williams College and hopes to become a pediatrician.
The students give candid accounts of their college experience, including their struggles adjusting to and juggling the increased workload as well as the highlights of freshman year so far (like meeting Chicano civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, cofounder of United Farm Workers, who recently spoke at Harvard.)
“When I first got here, the workload seemed impossible, but it just takes getting used to,’’ Sanchez wrote in a recent post. “I’m feeling WAY better now that I’ve learned to balance things out and really find ways to make time for the things that really matter.’’
Sanchez said he grew up with a single mother, who sustained the family on less than $7,000 a year. “Yet I was not going to hold our economic status or her absence as an excuse for failure,’’ he wrote.
He searched for opportunities while his friends succumbed to violence and drugs.
“Seeing how these influences had the power to tear families apart, I strived for a better way of life, put academics first, and made it to college! . . . I hope to be a role model that many of the students in my community lack. I want to prove that academic success is possible, no matter what obstacles one may face.’’
The blog can be found at www.csopportunityscholars.org.
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Check out the published article here.