When Giovanni was in high school, he wasn’t motivated academically. “I was into hanging out with my friends rather than going to school or getting schoolwork done,” he says. “I was there because I had to be there.”
Once he graduated from high school, he got a part-time job and moved out of his parents’ house. The realities of supporting himself made the road to college rockier. Now it was harder to manage the application process, and he had to finance his education on a small salary.
Giovanni decided to attend a community college. The smaller class sizes and lower tuition were two selling points. “I saw that community college would be [a better fit] for my lifestyle,” he says.
With the help of his mother and the college’s financial aid office, he applied for financial aid. “I had them put me in the right direction, [telling me] exactly what I needed to put down on the form, and who I needed to turn it in to, and how or when I would get approved,” he says.
Giovanni qualified for a subsidized Stafford Loan to help pay for his tuition and books. His parents pitched in, too.
Giovanni works as a clerk for a law firm during the day. It’s demanding, but the job has benefits beyond a paycheck. “I meet new people every day,” he says. “I’ve expanded my social skills and gained a lot of other skills while working here.
After he leaves work in the evening, he attends class. His days are long, but he finds inspiration by reaching out to others who are in the same situation.
Giovanni meets regularly with his college adviser to make sure he stays on track to transfer to a four-year college. He plans to major in psychology before earning his Ph.D. in the field. “Working at a law office really opened my eyes to just how far college can take you,” he says.