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RAW Commitment: Adult and Youth Paired for College Preparation

by Rob W.

Yesenia is a talented first-generation college applicant whose mother speaks little English. Dedicating over 80 hours between September and June, youth mentor Shelby helped her navigate a process that is especially complex for kids whose parents are immigrants and for whom cost is a real barrier.

Shelby works as an office manager at Raw Art Works in Lynn, MA. RAW is a youth arts organization that matches volunteer mentors with high school juniors and seniors to help them realize their future goals.

Over 95% of participants go on to college. Shelby has been a mentor for two years. "I was the first one in my family to go to college,” she says. “When I got there I realized how many opportunities exist if you just know about them and have the confidence to pursue them. It makes me happy to help kids access the opportunities that will help them be successful."

This year Shelby supported Yesenia through the ups and downs of the college application process. She coached her for a highly competitive scholarship interview, and helped Yesenia deal with her disappointment and come up with "Plan B" when she didn’t make the final cut. With Shelby’s guidance, Yesenia researched college and scholarship options and identified the Communications major, a good fit for Yesenia, who takes filmmaking classes at RAW. Shelby assisted Yesenia in assembling her application and editing her essays, and called the high school guidance office when Yesenia’s transcripts were delayed.

Yesenia is on her way to Bunker Hill Community College in September. "Having Shelby encourage and guide me through the whole process was so valuable; like knowing there is someone there to catch you if you fall,” she says. “I am so grateful for all her help."

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