We asked three Fellows to describe how their respective years in OneGoal went and the lessons they learned. Celinette spoke about her experience in Year 1, Jonathan described Year 2 and now Mario gives us a look at his Year 3 journey. Mario graduated from Northside High School in Houston and is part of Shilpa Sarang’s 2016 cohort. Mario is currently a sophomore at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and studying exercise science in kinesiology to become an athletic trainer.
When I look back at my time as a OneGoal Fellow, there are some key lessons that stick out:
Your college professors don’t want you to fail.
The professors I’ve had have all been very interesting and kind people who do care about us as their students. Professors have helped me out in very difficult situations, like, by extending due dates for me specifically. I once missed a final exam for a class. I told my professor and because he knew who I was, and that I was active in class, he let me take the final exam on a different day. So I learned that it’s very important to have a good relationship with your professors to really do better in class.
Your professors aren’t the only ones out there waiting to help you.
One of the highlights of my Year 3 was being able to get $2,000 in grant money for school just by asking. No essay, no applying; I just asked for help. In October of my freshman year, I had literally run out of money and was going to be unable to pay for rent for my housing. After a few hours of freaking out and panicking hysterically, I visited TRIO – an on-campus program that helps students graduate college – to ask for help. My TRIO coach calmed me down and made a call to a financial aid advisor. Shen then took me with her to the business office on campus and we all met with the advisor she knew. We talked about my situation and what I could do to get more money. Ten minutes after I had left the advisor’s office, he called me and told me he had found $2,000 in Texas Grant money. No loans, all grant, so I don’t need to pay it back. I was so happy I was just screaming, “YES!” That was a huge lifesaver for me.
Lean on your OneGoal family.
My OneGoal Program Director Ms. Sarang got me to join OneGoal and honestly, she has been like a mother to me. Ms. Sarang pushed me and all my OneGoal classmates to apply to as many colleges as possible and to mail in our transcripts. I remember I didn’t have enough money to pay to send a transcript or a college application, but she paid for me and it really helped me a lot. For all I remember, it could have been for the university I go to now.
One of the OneGoal staff members, Matt Sawyer, also really helped me the end of my senior year. He helped me get all my documents and financial aid straightened out for college and he helped me lock down housing on campus. Even when I go back to Houston for breaks, he always wants to meet up with me and check up on my progress. I’m now in my 2nd year of college and OneGoal has proven to me that they are here to help me all throughout college. The support didn’t just stop when I got into college.
Most importantly: to succeed, you have to be your own greatest cheerleader.
I learned that I can motivate myself more than anyone else in the world could, especially when people underestimate me. I said I was going to move out of my house for college and now I finally get my own room and have a better environment to study in peace. I didn’t just join a mixed martial arts club in college, I proved that I was capable of taking charge and I’m now one of the people in charge of running the club.
What I expect in the future – not hope, but expect – is that I graduate from college and find a way to give back to the people that helped me get to where I am right now. They showed me how to be a leader. That is why I talk to students at OneGoal events and at my old high school. I want younger student to know the truth. I don’t sugar coat things when talking about my experiences in high school and college. I tell them how difficult it can be. I know I’m not the smartest person in my class, but I’m trying to learn and I believe that just by doing your work, you’re already doing well. I tell students good things about college too, like about meeting new people and how food in college is 100,000,000 times better than what they serve in the cafeteria in high school.
For me, it’s like what my football coach used to tell us before a game: “We don’t hope to win! We expect to win!” So that’s what I expect for my future. I don’t hope to be successful; I expect to be successful.