The great Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Today, I’d like to share the experiences I’ve had in my first year at George Washington University thanks to the help and support of Thrive Scholars.
This year, I began the process to found a chapter of a Fraternity called Phi Delta Theta, established a campus Leadership Honors Society as the Founding President, and worked at the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute under Louis Caldera. I also involved myself in student government, and took advantage of the D.C. location to visit dozens of embassies, participate in several marches and attend the Presidential inauguration. I loved my classes, and I was able to end the academic year strong with a high GPA. Although it was definitely a shock to leave my family on the other side of the country, being surrounded by genuine and kind people made the transition much easier.
I felt like I could try new things and that I had people to lean on when I failed because of Thrive Scholars; they gave me the incentive to challenge myself, and the reassurance that if things didn’t work out, the Thrive Scholars network was there to support me. This summer, I plan on interning at Liner Law Firm in order to better understand what it means to be a lawyer, a step towards bettering my understanding of public policy and eventually becoming a public servant. Thank you Thrive Scholars for helping me reach this point of my life, and I can’t wait for what’s in store for the future!
I always knew I wanted to go to college. Growing up in a small town, I was fortunate enough to see how attaining a higher education could increase the number of opportunities available to me and my family. But, as a high school student, I didn’t realize how small my understanding of my surroundings was until Thrive Scholars and the Londons.
Thrive Scholars opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. I went to my first networking event in high school with the Londons, where I met a number of men and women who understood the importance of education and supported Thrive Scholars because of this. When college applications came around, Mr. Winston helped me prep for my Harvard interview and took me and other Scholars on a college tour of UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Davis. And when the majority of my high school class in Thrive Scholars decided to attend UC Berkeley, the Londons and Mr. Winston checked on us regularly and were instrumental in our transition. Thrive Scholars helped set the ground work needed for me to be successful.
I, like most people, still face barriers. There is so much that needs to be done for those in need. Because of this, I feel my greatest accomplishment has yet to come. But if I had to encourage a current Scholar, I would remind them that each day is a new day and a chance for them to prepare and work hard for the life they want for themselves tomorrow. I would also tell them not to let the thoughts, judgments, and words of others dictate what they see themselves accomplishing. Your decisions are yours as well as your actions. Own them.
In my original application to Thrive Scholars I remarked that the most challenging thing I have overcome was experiencing homelessness. At the age of 17 I became homeless and was the primary financial support for my siblings. This was an extremely difficult time in my life. Especially considering that 11th grade is the most important grade of your high school career. I was lucky enough to be able to manage my living situation without allowing my grades to drop tremendously.
Today, I am proud to be graduating from Babson College and with an exciting job offer already in hand as a Private Equity Analyst at Landmark Partners.
Two critical people made a world of difference. Mel Lindsey, Thrive Scholars Advisory Board Member and Founder/Managing Partner of Nile Capital Group gave me my first transformative internship at his private equity firm when I was a sophomore. In that role, I pushed past my comfort zone and fully immersed myself in the field; taking every opportunity to learn from those around about the industry. Through the Thrive Scholars Mentorship Program, I was paired with mentor and supporter, Martin Jacobs a Portfolio Manager at Capital Group. Martin introduced me directly to other industry professionals allowed me to continue learning. Every summer, my goal has been to learn more and more about finance. The Thrive Scholars network made that possible.
Initially I was nervous about attending USC, a predominantly white private school; I was worried about fitting in as a person of color. I am a first-generation student of color from a low-income family. I tried talking to my mom about issues I was having, but she didn’t quite understand what I was going through because she didn’t go to college herself. Thanks to Thrive Scholars Summer Conference I met other students going to USC or who were facing the same challenge at other schools. After meeting other Scholars, I knew I wasn’t alone on campus, I knew other people going in, and knew mentors I could talk to about college through Thrive Scholars. It made all the difference.
Now I will have my bachelor’s in Journalism from the Annenberg School of Communication and I am going to pursue my master’s in Public Administration from the Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Through all my college accomplishments, I am most proud of the internships I have attained. I have interned with Hollywire, TheWrap, and City of Santa Monica Communications Dept. Through Thrive Scholars referrals, I have also interned with Lionsgate and will intern with CAA this summer.
I didn’t know just how unique Thrive Scholars is until I realized that my friends did not have the same opportunities: they don’t have access to networks of people that can help, they don’t know how to apply for or approach internships, or even how to get started. I feel more confident pursuing my career goals because of Thrive Scholars’ career development webinars and events, and because Thrive Scholars has given me access to so many opportunities.
Do you want to sacrifice now or sacrifice later? Do you want to spend seven weeks that can change your entire college and career trajectory now, or spend seven years later trying to figure out what that trajectory is? College is all about opening doors and taking advantage of opportunities. Summer Academy will open those doors for you once you get to college, rather than spending your four years working around them.
The initial reason I was interested in Thrive Scholars was my fear of crashing and burning during my first semester at Harvard. I knew as a black male coming from a low-income single parent household in Hyde Park, there were many adjustments I would have to make. Thrive Scholars ensured I was academically prepared. That meant instead of focusing on mere survival in college, I could focus on embracing those opportunities I needed to flourish.
After moving into campus, I saw right away that it was a big transition from high school. I encounter people with very different backgrounds and identities from me, so there’s a little bit of doubt inside of me that maybe I don’t belong here. But, we had talked about that at Summer Academy, and even now, we can reach out to each other to share experiences, to share reassurances. I know that I’m not alone.
Doing well in college will help me get to where I need to be to make the changes I need to make. If I don’t graduate and get the right degree I will have the passion but not the hard skills and tools I need to help me get where I want to get to. And Thrive Scholars has given me the support I need to make sure I know I can do it. They are another family- it helps to know that there are people, besides my immediate family, that are behind me who want me to do well.