We asked three Fellows to describe how their respective years in OneGoal went and the lessons they learned. Jonathan reflects on Year 2, Mario shares advice on Year 3 and here Celinette writes about kicking off the journey to college in Year 1 as a high school junior. Celinette is now a senior at Lawrence High School in Massachusetts and is part of Maureen Santiago’s 2018 cohort. She’s currently applying to colleges and hopes to study psychology.
When I look back at my time learning about what the college process would entail, there are some key things I took away:
College isn’t something to “just get over with.”
I was initially indifferent about college. As a sophomore learning about the OneGoal program, I was just trying to go to community college and get it over with. Now, having finished Y1 and learning the ins and outs, I know that I can do more than what I thought I could. I didn’t know what it would be like to be away from my family, be away from my environment, and be on my own. Now I know I can learn in different environments with different types of people. I can be in a large classroom and still get things done.
OneGoal has given me a better understanding of how I can get to where I want to go. It’s not all black and white. It’s not, ‘You can’t go there because your grades are low.” I can be more than what I thought.
You don’t have to have all the answers.
I’d like to go to a four-year college to study psychology and maybe get my master’s degree one day. I want to get my career started and with psychology you can go into any kind of career. I want to give back to my community, but I don’t know exactly how. Psychology gives me flexibility to figure that out.
You grow up when you seriously decide to go to college.
I’m a teenager so I have a bad attitude; it’s what we do. After my first year in OneGoal though, I knew that I couldn’t continue like that that anymore; it’s not ok. I learned to stay focused, get things done, know what I want and that I have to actually do the work for it to get done. Like, you can’t just look at a college on a computer and decide, ‘that’s where I’m going to go.’ You have to actually go visit it. You have to do this work for yourself because you’re not always going to have someone holding your hand in life.
You’ll have to do some things alone, but you’ll always have support.
At my worst, my OneGoal Program Director Ms. Santiago never gave up on me. Even though I had an attitude and was closed up, she didn’t give up. She always tried to get close to us as a cohort and get us to break out. After a while, I saw that she wasn’t there to harm; she was there to help and with time I started to trust her.
In my Y1 journey, I really had to open up to my Program Director to get her to understand why I am the way I am and how I got to be where I am. We built that trust, and then she was able to help me in a way no one else could because she understood the college process and my family didn’t. Being first-generation, it’s hard when your family hasn’t gone through the process.
Now I can say that my cohort and Ms. Santiago have been my biggest support group through the whole college process. We really help each other and make our class an open space so that everyone feels comfortable asking for help. Ms. Santiago will answer any question at any time of day and really proves to us that there’s no such thing as a dumb question.
November 26, 2018
Robert Emmons joined OneGoal as a Fellow in 2009 looking to improve his life and his community. Almost 10 years later, he’s completed the program, experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in college and given back by joining OneGoal staff. As he looks toward his next professional step, he now reflects on each step of his journey and how they defined him.