BENEFITING: Students Rising Above
For my 28th birthday, I am asking my friends and family to help me buy a bunch of school supplies for some young adults that will really enjoy them. Here's why:
On June 28th I turn 28, and I "want for nothing." I am lucky, I am (#hashtag) blessed, and I am thankful. We immigrated to the US when I was almost five, and I learned English in Kindergarten, and from American sit-coms on TV. My family worked hard at many jobs, usually several at a time, so we'd have the best chance of making it— and it worked. Their support, tohgether with scholarships, TA-ing, and years of work-study took me all the way through school, where my eyes were opened to what the world could be, and how I might find my place in it. I went to a great college, and I have a great career as a result. I want for nothing.
Last year I watched a segment on the local news about a Bay Area high school student named Olman who's been working at McDonald's full time since he was 15 to support himself and his sister because their Guatemalan parents couldn't stay in the US. Then I watched a bunch of the other segments online (http://cbsloc.al/1QTYwEg) about similar students rising above incredibly taxing circumstances, circumstances they had not chosen for themselves. These students shared two common traits— 1) their commitment to education and incredible perseverance in the face of adverse circumstances—and 2) they were all a part of an organization called Students Rising Above.
SRA provides one-on-one mentoring and advising, financial support, access to health insurance and medical and dental care, academic guidance, and a comprehensive college prep curriculum that helps students determine which schools to apply to, how to file for financial aid and scholarships, and how to transition to the social and academic rigors of college life. 90% of SRA students graduate from college which is nearly 3 times the national average for low-income, first gen students. I joined as a volunteer soon after, helping at mock-interview fairs and enrolling to become a one-on-one mentor to a rising high school senior this year.
I dare you to look through its Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/1NlWMyi) and not be impressed— every student in the program gets a congratulatory post when they choose the college they're heading off to in the fall— and there are so many of them this year, heading to a jumble of the best UC schools, and even a couple of folks heading east, to places like Tufts and Boston College!
The challenge isn't over. Tuition may be covered, but day-to-day expenses can still be a giant struggle. Have a look at this eye-opening piece from the Boston Globe, called "What is it like to be poor at an Ivy League school?" [Spoiler Alert— very difficult.] (http://bit.ly/1I36oeb) Let's help, even just the littlest bit, by donating some money towards school supplies.
Students Rising Above already equips those who need the assistance with a small stipend to help cover a Target/Walmart run— you know, things like notebooks, highlighters, that cute desk lamp for your dorm room, so you can feel like a normal freshman. For my birthday, let's help them do that in greater amount this year. I don't want anything else.
I want some smart freshman to roll into their first day of class with a backpack full of new stuff. I loved every first day of school because of all the crisp new school supplies (Truly. Nerd. I know.) Now I'm done with school and I want to give that feeling to other folks. Help me?
28 hundred dollars for my 28th birthday? I hope you want to help, I really do. If you, my friends, don't help me meet this goal, I pledge to give the rest myself. I would rather you wanted to help, but a pledge is a pledge, even if its all from one person.