Monday, August 4, 2008

Preparing for College

On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune featured their annual college issue in their Sunday Magazine. One of the articles featured was about the Posse Foundation Scholarship, which goes to talented inner-city seniors who are going to attend small, private liberal-arts colleges. What the scholarship does, other than help an underprivileged youth attend college, is create a network of college students who are all going through the same adjustments from inner cities to mostly rural or suburban, affluent small colleges.This is a wonderful idea because so many smart, capable students from the inner city don't make it in college, not because they aren't smart or talented, but because they don't have a support system to rely on in times of change.

Here at Cabrini Connections, we are working hard on making sure our students have an adequate support system before they enter college. I've written before about our wonderful tutor/mentor, Jen Nolan, who has worked tirelessly to help our seniors this year find the best college options for their interests and also to find the best financial aid possible. Working with her this coming year is my dear friend, Carla Reyes, who is a recent Northwestern graduate in the class of 2008, and who has been working with Jen at the Civic Federation as a Northwestern Public Interest Fellow since April of this year.

What make Carla so invaluable for helping our students make decisions about college is that she, herself, grew up in East Los Angeles to immigrant parents from El Salvador. Carla got into Northwestern University and was very successful there, but still found the transition challenging. Along with Jen, Carla has been helping create a curriculum, not only about applying, getting in, and funding college, but also how to successfully making the transition to college. Her top piece of advice is to find a mentor at your university, because they can help you steer through many of the difficulties of transitioning to college that much more easily. I've been wanting for Carla to volunteer for us since I've started working her at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and am so thrilled that she is going to join us as a college advisor and tutor/mentor for the coming school-year, since I believe her insights and enthusiasm will invaluable for our students. Also, it's her birthday today, so Happy Birthday to my dear friend and new volunteer, Carla Reyes!

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

One of the goals of Cabrini Connections is to keep the volunteers and youth connected to each other beyond the 7th to 12th grade years, using the Internet as a meeting place. As this happens, we'll help kids find the more of the mentors they need to not only complete college, but to take the next step, into a job and careers.

It's this long term vision of tutoring/mentoring that makes Cabrini Connections so unique, as well as our commitment to help tutor/mentor programs grow in all parts of Chicago, not just our own program.

Getting volunteers like Jen and Carly involved, as leaders, not just tutors/mentors, is a critically important part of this strategy.