I have a friend named Jackie Martinez who works at Facebook. This morning she posted about a phone call she had yesterday with a mentee. After reading her story twice, I felt compelled to blog the response I want to leave to her.
Her post is here.
“…she (the mentor) spoke about the challenges she faced coming from a single-parent household as a first generation college student, with four siblings, unsure of how to navigate, as well as how to afford the ambiguous and costly road ahead of her. Restless and anxious, it seemed as though factors such as accessibility and affordability had overcome a bright, talented and curious students’ capacity to understand all that she had to offer as well as all that she had yet to become. The road ahead would be difficult, but I assured her that together, we’d turn challenges into opportunities.”
Jackie continued with the story of how her driver reacted to hearing the conversation, he himself a college dropout who tried but was overcome by the process and expense.
Here’s the resource-rich comment I would’ve left had I not decided to blog instead:
Jackie, I have a million things to say on this topic since I am regularly in front of students as you described here.
For now I will first say the importance of mentoring is on display right here. 🙂 Thanks for all you do.
These young people CANNOT do this by themselves. There is simply too much to know that they don’t know. The driver’s devastating story is testiment to this fact.
RESOURCE: CHCI.org – the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington DC maintains a huge database of scholarships, internships, fellowships ranging from bachelor’s degrees to doctoral degrees. It’s a curated list of scholarships that Latino students can apply for including many scholarships that all students can apply for, and Latinos should definitely apply for many scholarships. FREE resource. EVERY Latino in middle school should be given this link and encouraged to begin scoping out scholarships right now.
Yes, there is a plethora of PRIVATE money for students who are undocumented. Why do they still not know this? Because nobody told them or they were discouraged from even pursuing higher education because of their immigration status.
In addition, private universities, the really expensive ones that Latinos rarely apply to because I think it’s too expensive? Well, they’ve got billions of dollars in endowment funds available that can be used to attract and retain brilliant students not born into wealth. But students MUST first be encouraged by US to apply.
RESOURCE: Did you know that if you apply to Harvard and get in on your own merits, and your parents make less than $85,000 a year, you will attend Harvard tuition free? Stanford if your parents make less than $125,000? I’ve heard it said that Stanford even provides no/low-cost housing to this group of students.
Why don’t our brilliant students know this? Answer is lack of guidance and implicit bias.
Implicit bias manifests itself through the high school counselor who tells the student to apply to the local community college so they can live at home and “help” their poor family. When you look at National Education statistics and realize that only one out of 17 Latino students who starts at Community College ever graduates with a four-year degree, you’ll realize they being DOOMED with these LOW expectations. Our students and their families must be preparing to apply for a ton of scholarships, take the money, and truly move out and become SCHOLARS. That should be the goal. That is how Chinese families do it.
Implicit bias shows up when that counselor denies our students information about ELITE universities and the private money that will pay for those pathways. There are of course exceptions to what I’m saying, but this bias is real.
Por eso estamos donde estamos.
STILL only less than 15% of Latino adults in this country have a four-year degree. 15% of Latino adults, ladies and gentlemen!!
This implicit bias has been in place for GENERATIONS!
So it’s up to us to MENTOR our young people and guide them not only through the application process but also to secure funding for the ENTIRE higher education journey. We must guide them ALL THE WAY THROUGH until they have that college diploma in hand. It really is on all of US who have completed the journey to reach back, help and ensure MANY other young people complete it.
I wrote a blog post on this topic a few years ago and included some pretty shocking numbers and a checklist of action you can take to help fill in this gap. Please read it. Please share it. It’s here.
RESOURCE: I earned my bachelor degree at UC Berkeley as a first-gen college student, funded by the United States Air Force- a 4-year Air Force ROTC scholarship that paid ALL my out-of-state tuition and fees and provided a stipend as well. When I completed my degree, I owed simply four years of service to the U.S. Air Force. When I was selected to fly however, I happily extended my commitment a few more years and ultimately served over 9 years. I suggest you all spread the word about ROTC scholarships to eligible students. With the ROTC scholarship, you earn your EDUCATION FIRST; do your military service SECOND as as an OFFICER!
This path is the opposite of enlisting after high school which too many of our students do because NOBODY mentioned ROTC scholarships to them! So I’ll repeat myself over and over. I applied to Berkeley. I applied for the 4-year ROTC scholarship in the US Air Force. I took the money and moved a thousand miles away from my family in Colorado to really focus on becoming a scholar. I highly, highly recommend to high school students that they do the same, forget this sticking around the family working trying to help out. That’s just BS advice that KEEPS LATINOS DOWN. That is not focusing on achieving a new level of education and economic empowerment. Remember: 1 of 17 Latino students who start at Community College ever finish a four-year degree. You might as well not bother.
RESOURCE: While I was on active duty, my graduate degree in international business management was 85% funded by the American Association of University women. AAUW.org. Go there now. What a VERY WELL FUNDED organization that only exists to help women attain their educational credentials.
Two degrees – my total debt was $6000.
RESOURCES: Oh, and I just took my teen daughters to an “Expanding your Horizons” Math and Science careers conference two weekends ago at Berkeley. We met six doctoral students, all women, all pursuing degrees in microbiology, mechanical engineering, virology, other engineering disciplines. ALL stressed that their ENTIRE higher education journey has been paid for, complete with stipends, because they’re pursuing the much-needed Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines. They’ll graduate with Ph.Ds and NO DEBT.
This myth that attaining higher education means going into massive debt is exactly that it is: a myth. This is especially true for our community of brilliant students who universities across this nation are desperate to find. Help them – especially the private schools!
We cannot continue to tolerate the loss of potential and the perpetual cycle of poverty because our brilliant students with their BRILLIANT minds were not connected with information and funding sources that would have turned their lives and their DESCENDANTS’ lives, into a completely different, economically-ADVANTAGED situation in just one generation.
It’s on US to help. Each one, reach one (or 20!)