Describe yourself in three words: Out-going, Driven (slightly competitive), and Genuine
How did you first get involved with ACCESS? During my freshman year at Granby High School, ACCESS had an after-school mentoring program. I went with my friend to an event and continued to attend throughout the year. My senior year, I was introduced to Cheryl L. Jones. She welcomed all the seniors in her office and discussed the importance of college and meeting deadlines. While I was a good student, I had difficulty with the SATs. My Access Advisor assisted me in finding schools that fit my GPA and SAT score and completing the applications.
The most life-changing moment was when Access took students to a local college fair. I met different representatives and picked up cards to request additional information. When I got home that day, I had mail from some colleges. The information was not good. I was rejected from my dream school. My mom asked me what information I received from the college fair. She pulled out the Virginia Wesleyan College packet of information and called the school to talk to an admission’s representative. After talking for a moment with my mom, the admission representative asked to speak to me. Within minutes, I was told I was accepted. I could not believe it. A week later I got the official letter. Then it was time to complete the FAFSA form, which was difficult given my situation. Nonetheless, my Access Advisor made sure my FAFSA was filed. Thanks to Access I not only got into college but was able to receive financial aid to attend college as well.
After thinking I was done, my Access Advisor gave me an application for a scholarship. Because I had met all the required deadlines, I was able to submit the scholarship application. After riding the wave of graduation, I got an invitation to attend a luncheon to receive the scholarship. Thanks to that scholarship, I was able to complete my first year of college. I renewed the scholarship each year and continued to get help with my FAFSA form.
What is your most memorable/rewarding moment working with ACCESS? During my first year as an Advisor at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, I met a student who did not believe college was for her. She had a good GPA but was very abrasive and never said anything positive about her future. After many one-on-one appointments with me, she began to change. She became very friendly and started to smile.
She was so nervous the week leading up to her SATs. When I saw her that following Wednesday, she begin to tell me how she was scared as to what her scores would be. When her scores came in and she saw that she had a score that would allow her to apply to many different schools, she cried in my office. I asked her if she had thought about any schools. She said she dreamed of going to Virginia Union University. We worked together on her paperwork and she mailed in her application. Several weeks later, she walks in my office with a Virginia Union University sweatshirt on. She sat down and opened her binder and said, “Read this!” I began to read her acceptance letter into Virginia Union University, which also said they were giving her a scholarship. I will never forget the look of endless possibility on her face. Watching her evolve throughout the school year confirmed the reason I wanted to work for ACCESS. I got the opportunity to give a student something that was given to me.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a college-bound student? Pay attention to deadlines. Also, I would encourage a college-bound student to get involved in campus life and participate in community service activities. It is a great way to meet new people and to make connections.