During the Thanksgiving break I started to reflect on my academic career now that I’m in my senior year of college and personal journey to get where I am now. One of the challenges of being a low income first generation college student is that we’ve been used to relying on a smaller support system than our peers. Much of the support system we rely on consists of our immediate family, friends, and a handful of people who took the time to mentor us as we strived to achieve succeed academically. The core of my support system has always been and will remain to be my father and grandparents who provided me with so much love and care that even though I didn’t grow up with vast financial wealth I knew I was rich emotionally. A few teachers and volunteers in my high school helped to guide me along my personal journey as I sought intellectual growth and they provided me with challenges to improve academically. My sophomore year English teacher and History teacher are two of the people who I accredit the most with fostering my love of learning and who I will always be thankful for.

]Leaving for college I wasn’t sure how I would start finding new mentors from scratch, but was very fortunate that I stumbled across my current mentors through either courses I’ve taken, involvements on campus, or chance encounters. It would have even harder for me to get through college with the relationships I’ve formed as I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time in college or utilized the resources to develop academically and professionally. That is not to say that college is a walk through the park even with a strong support network, but it is just as much of an essential as stocking up on free food and gear whenever it is available. My advice to a high school senior is to continue to foster the relationships you formed with teachers and current mentors while not being afraid to make new connections when you go to college. Support can come in the form of various faculty members or students who wish to accompany you on this milestone of your life or it can come in subtle opportunities that open themselves to you as if it was destined to occur. There are plenty of individuals I’m thankful for in how they helped to shape my time in college and I work to live out my appreciation by helping others to succeed or accompany them on their personal journey. My challenge to high schools preparing for college is to not just look for ways to strengthen their support networks but think of ways they can be a part of someone else’s support system and help them the way someone took the time to help you.