Growing up in the South Bronx, you can come across so many different cultures within just a five block radius. And as different as all of these cultures are, you can see how they share so many important qualities: everyone is hardworking, motivated and determined to make better lives for their families.
But the one thing that you don’t see much of in my community is college graduates. Even in my family, most don’t hold a college degree and many didn’t finish high school because there are so many jobs around here that don’t require a higher level of education. So for me, it was natural that I hadn’t considered college before being a part of OneGoal. OneGoal works to support excellent teachers already working in low-income public high schools to coach students toward college enrollment and success.
OneGoal absolutely opened my mind to what was possible and exposed me to so many careers that I had never before considered. I remember in my sophomore year being introduced to OneGoal and thinking “college preparation? Isn’t that what the school is for?” The OneGoal staff and my program director Ms. Choi have really taken it to the next level in the way that they’ve supported me through studying for the SATs, researching colleges, writing supplemental college essay and applying for scholarships.
I’m applying to over 20 colleges all across the country because I want to study sociology and political science to better understand how different cultures can coexist, especially now when it feels like there is so much division between everyone.
I feel like in this country we have such a strong belief of what is safe versus what isn’t safe and we associate it with different cultures because of past experiences or biases and it’s a roadblock in terms of making our country stronger and making our community more inclusive. Even as an American citizen, I at times feel excluded from everyone every time I have to check off the “other” box on a form when it asks for details of my identity, instead of feeling pride in the six different cultures that I represent.
The reason that I want to go to college and receive a strong education is that I find it really interesting how America sees some people coming into our country as threats while others are welcomed wholeheartedly. Once we are able to change our mindset on what it means to be an American, it’ll really change the country for the better. I want to be a part of that change.
So when I hear that people want to come to my neighborhood of extraordinary people and promote policies that would split apart the undocumented families who I see working hard, contributing to the rich culture of our community, and paying their taxes, I have to stand against it.
I take part in community organizing, have protested for my community, and more than anything, have seen the impact that my single voice can make. I’m so thankful to OneGoal and Ms. Choi for helping me see the possibilities that college can offer to not only better myself, but better my community.
I’m now more determined than ever to earn my college degree so that I can one day serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations and really make an impact on the world.