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The biggest impact College Dreams had on me was the fact that I had a network of stakeholders and mentors looking out for me. Eventually during the scholarship and college application process, I transitioned working with Rene Cardiff and Rebecca Clark to working with Jann Taylor. I spent hours every week in the College and Career Center working with my CCPS’ to develop my essays and clarify my vision and applying for numerous scholarships. I felt throughout my high school experience that I had a community of stakeholders who were always affirming and encouraging who gave me courage enough to apply for college and eventually pursue a professional career path was actually possible.
I was however still worried my whole senior year wondering “How am I going to pay for college?” All this work paid off. I got an interview with the Ford Family Foundation and I ended up being awarded a Ford Scholarship and committed to Willamette University. This was critical. I had applied to several colleges such that I would have options in case I couldn’t afford some of them. College Dreams staff walked me through step-by-step of applying for and appealing financial aid options, weighing my options in paying for the schools I got into. Because of my College Dreams IDA, financial aid, and the scholarships I won, my entire college education at the school of my choice is covered.
I still keep in touch with everyone at College Dreams. They are my cheerleaders. The last two years, I have gone back and done presentations to current College Dreams students at GPHS. My College Dreams family is the first network of mentors that I ever had. In my senior year, I also ended up mentoring other College Dreams peers who were also starting to learn how to apply for scholarships. Now, I am a Peer Career Advisor at Willamette University for first-generation college students and students of color. Since graduating in 2018, I have also interned at the Oregon State Legislature twice and at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. I am now on track to be a full-blown professional. I never imagined any of this was possible.