As a high school junior, Alexandra moved to a new state. “It was really hard for me to adapt,” she says. “I was overwhelmed not only by the size of the school but also because I didn’t know anyone. I remember feeling scared that I would get lost or miss the bus to school (I had never taken a bus before).” Alexandra was also worried about not being accepted by her new classmates.
At the same time, Alexandra started to think about college. Her parents wanted her to go, but they told her she would have to find a way to pay for it.
To help adjust to her new school and meet other students, Alexandra joined the newly formed Latino club. She soon realized the club needed leadership, and became its president.
“There was a lot of work to do,” she says, “Our main goal was to get Latino [students] more involved with extracurricular activities.” Alexandra’s group hoped this would help lower the Hispanic dropout rate.
Her science teacher, an advisor to the club, eventually became an important mentor. “She reached out to me,” Alexandra recalls. “She was willing to spend time with me after school or on weekends to look over my [college] essays and give me advice.”
By her senior year, Alexandra was full of confidence. She began filling out college applications and researching financial aid. She chose a public university in her new state and received an academic scholarship as well as federal grants and loans.
Alexandra continues to be involved at college, joining a sorority and the Hispanic Student Association. But her favorite activity was tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club. “I learned so much from the kids. I still think about the impact I had on them and that they had on me.”
She credits being active, on and off campus, with helping her get the most out of college. “You learn things that you cannot learn in class,” she says.
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Alexandra will head to graduate school — the next step on her path to becoming a therapist.