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Posts Tagged Williams College

Four bloggers featured in The Boston Globe

CSOlogo-85Mean streets to collegethe_boston_globe)225
By Tracy Jan/The Boston Globe

November 29, 2009 – It can be lonely at times being a first-generation college student. And as a low-income high school student applying to college, the experience can be overwhelming.

Students can now turn to a new blog launched by the Center for Student Opportunity for support, advice, and inspiration. Four of the 10 bloggers attend New England colleges:

There’s Jesse Sanchez, who said he overcame gangs and poverty in San Diego to become the first in his family to attend college – at Harvard, no less. He hopes to become the first Latino mayor of San Diego.

Khadijah Williams, a Harvard freshman, writes of being a homeless high school student who used education as her way out of Los Angeles’s Skid Row.

Duylam Nguyen-Ngo, a budding entrepreneur, credits his single mother with inspiring him to enter Babson College despite growing up in a dangerous Richmond neighborhood.

And Lysa Vola, who was adopted at age 5 along with five of her siblings in Jensen Beach, Fla., is attending Williams College and hopes to become a pediatrician.

The students give candid accounts of their college experience, including their struggles adjusting to and juggling the increased workload as well as the highlights of freshman year so far (like meeting Chicano civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, cofounder of United Farm Workers, who recently spoke at Harvard.)

“When I first got here, the workload seemed impossible, but it just takes getting used to,’’ Sanchez wrote in a recent post. “I’m feeling WAY better now that I’ve learned to balance things out and really find ways to make time for the things that really matter.’’

Sanchez said he grew up with a single mother, who sustained the family on less than $7,000 a year. “Yet I was not going to hold our economic status or her absence as an excuse for failure,’’ he wrote.

He searched for opportunities while his friends succumbed to violence and drugs.

“Seeing how these influences had the power to tear families apart, I strived for a better way of life, put academics first, and made it to college! . . . I hope to be a role model that many of the students in my community lack. I want to prove that academic success is possible, no matter what obstacles one may face.’’

The blog can be found at www.csopportunityscholars.org.

The Quad highlights doings on local campuses. For online updates, go to www.boston.com/ MetroDesk and click on The Quad. To submit tips, e-mail Tracy Jan at tjan@globe.com.

Check out the published article here.

Thankful for the things we often take for granted…

lysa-85Being with my family these past few days has made me realize just how fortunate I am for having a house over my head for the holidays. I began to think about how many people don’t have anyone to go home to. 

I am grateful that everyone in my family is also relatively healthy and safe. I am thankful that I wake up every morning with no worries about how I’m going to eat that day, or where I’m going to lay my head down at night.

It’s so easy to forget just how many people are homeless during the holidays, and cannot even afford to feed their families. My heart truly goes out to those who are struggling during the holiday season.

My family may not be the richest, live in the nicest neighborhood, or drive the fanciest car, but we do have each other, and being home makes me realize that I have a support network of people who love me back home that many people do not have. 

Most of all, I am thankful to be where I am right now in my life, with the ability to shape my own  future. I am thankful to be in college, doing well and on my way to a successful career, because my own parents never had that chance.

The holiday has made me thankful for many things that we as a society often take for granted.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Lend a helping hand to someone, donate to an organization, or do anything to take a small part in changing someone’s holiday for the better this season!

Ace Your Next Scholarship Interview!

lysa-85Hey seniors! I know it’s getting to be that time of year when all that is on your mind is how on earth you are going to afford to attend all of those great colleges you’ve been preparing applications for. Well, no need to worry anymore! The following  suggestions will help you to easily become a top candidate for any scholarship that requires an interview process. It is important to remember that an interview is useful in complimenting your actual application. It should be viewed as an opportunity to set you apart from all other applicants. That being said, make sure you have something unique to contribute to the conversation and to share about yourself!

Always Remember:

  1. Make sure you have a general idea of what you would like to accomplish while in college, and into your future. Some frequently asked questions in interviews include: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you plan on doing with your education, and how you plan to contribute to society? What you’ve learned from a specific mistake or difficult experience. And most importantly, consider why you think you would be an excellent recipient for the scholarship you are applying for.
  2. Next, think specifically about the scholarship award that you are seeking. Be sure you are very well informed about the organization. Ask questions if there is anything you would like more clarification about.
  3. Look your best for an interview! When preparing your outfit, consider the formality of the interview, and don’t under dress or overdo your outfit by any means.
  4. What if you can’t think of a good answer to a question that’s been posed? Or, you can’t even think of a bad answer because your mind has gone blank? Again, keeping your composure under pressure is the key. You could suggest that it’s a really interesting question that has prompted a lot of different ideas for you and you’d like to take a moment to organize your thoughts. In situations such as this one, it may be best to take a little pressure off by giving yourself a moment to collect your thoughts. You may even ask them to repeat the question to give yourself more time to reflect on what is being asked. They are not going to think less of you for being human-like and taking a breath/pause before answering a question!
  5. The key is to remain confident and don’t let a problem shake your sense of yourself. The judges recognize the pressure you are under and, as in life, you are often judged not by the reality that problems occur, but by the style with which you manage those problems. Approach the interview with a sense of confidence, some humility and enough good humor to get you past any awkward moments.
  6. JUST REMEMBER YOU MADE IT TO THE INTERVIEW IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE SOMEONE SAW GREAT POTENTIAL IN YOU! THIS IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE!

-Lysa Vola

Life inside the Purple Bubble

lysa-85“Welcome to the next best four years of your life: College.” I drove 21 hours to finally arrive at the “purple bubble,” one of the smallest, yet best liberal arts colleges in the nation. As I approached my dorm, Williams Hall, my mind was flooded with the reality at hand; I quickly began to question whether or not I had made the right choice.

However was we all know, you should never second guess yourself! First days began with an early program for first generation students (meaning that neither of our parents attended a four year college), where we were the only students allowed to arrive early on campus and move into our dorms. This was the best part, because move in was definitely not as chaotic as it was when everyone arrived two days later.

We were told that out of a class of 542 freshmen, first generation students comprised only 6%! As one admission advisor put it, “we made it into Williams against the odds, with the wind against our chest and not our backs, but the admissions office makes no mistakes, and we deserve to be where we are.” That is something that has kept me motivated thus far in my studies.

It is so easy to feel out of place from time to time in a new setting or situation. College is scary at first. I was terrified for my first class, my first college essay, and my first exam. Yet life is always full of “firsts,” from start to finish. They are a necessity, and get you from where you are to where you’re going.

The orientation program at my college was my “first” glimpse at the life of a college student. This program acquainted me with the campus and even the surrounding area. You should always take advantages of programs that your school offers to get you acquainted with your surroundings and the resources offered to you (and yes, I know most of them seem boring, but you might be surprised).

I was able to participate in a trip called “Where Am I?” In this program, we traveled to the surrounding areas around Williams College, participating in farming activities (since Williamstown is predominantly rural), community service, and engaged ourselves in the surrounding communities.

Since college started, my closest friends have proven to be those people who I live and study with. It is important to build friendships with people quickly, otherwise you are apt to feel very alone quickly on a College campus, and this is not a good way to start the next four years of your life!

I’ve also learned that time management is clearly the only way to survive college! Write everything down: notes, meetings, appointments, even when you plan on eating dinner, you’d be surprised but it’s easy to forget so many things, when you’re juggling so much on your plate freshman year.