Being the Help in my Community

Growing up on the south side of Chicago wasn’t easy. I grew up watching as many of my community members fell into the wrong steps early on in life. Some students within my community weren’t the easiest to deal with, often written off as “bad kids.” I witnessed this from an early age and asked myself, “Why isn’t anyone helping them?”

When I started high school, I had to travel about 20 minutes south of where I lived because I wasn’t accepted into the high school of my choice. Luckily, the school I attended was equipped with some of the most dedicated, hard-working instructors I ever met. My instructors dedicated time before and after school to aid students who needed extra help. I was assured that if I needed to meet with my instructors, I would never be turned away. It was common for staff members to lead extra-curricular activities. They all knew their students and expressed genuine interest in their students’ success and discipline. They exemplified patience and empathy for students whose circumstances were far beyond what anyone could imagine. Their level of care for their students’ education transformed me as an individual and as a student.

These life-changing experiences motivated me to serve communities like mine. Being a first-generation college student from a low-income community can be terrifying. It’s not uncommon for us to feel alone at times because of the lack of support within our communities and even from our households. Academically, it can feel like we’re barely catching up to students who had the privilege of a head start. This has informed where I work and how I serve.

Throughout college I’ve been employed through City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. I’ve been able to work with students like me, oftentimes first-generation and low-income. One of the most positive experiences within education has been working with GEAR UP, a grant-based program that increases the academic performance and preparation of students in secondary and post-secondary education. Our mission is to help students all over Chicago succeed through high school and to aid them through the college process, along with mentoring them through their first year of college. As a team, we increase our community’s awareness of post-secondary education by aiding students through the financial aid process, researching scholarships opportunities, connecting students with organizations on campus, and hosting academic workshops. It has been heartwarming to support my city’s youth through their journey to college.

Because of the great support and experiences I had in high school, I want to educate, reform, and advocate for communities like mine–communities that are often overlooked and misunderstood. We are marginalized from other communities due to our crime rates and delinquency. This creates a cycle of hurt, violence, and indifference within our communities. Therefore, as a future educator, it is my goal to give a voice to communities who oftentimes don’t. I will take the time to get to know my students and foster parent involvement. In order to have a community flourish, students and families must feel supported. I have seen my own high school community thrive, and I will fight to do the same within the Chicago Public Schools system.

Lourdes Bustos is a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a 2018-2019 virtual intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Mentorship is the Greater Success

As the son of an immigrant, success was never handed to me. My mother once told me, “If you have the opportunity to be successful, take the chance.” My mother has not been afforded the same opportunities as myself. However, she has given me the greatest gifts of leadership, integrity, and ambition. My mother’s drive inspires me to never to give up and to achieve my goals. As a result, I am able to attend Santa Clara University fully funded to the completion of my Ph.D. through the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program. My humble beginnings have allowed me to value education as the only way someone like me can “make it.” However, my road to success didn’t happen alone.

Mentorship is the key to my success. My journey began through Verbum Dei High School’s Adopt-A-Student Program where donors and mentors reach out to the students and assist them financially but, most importantly, with mentorship. My mentor helped me gain confidence in public speaking, communications, and educational success. As a result, since my senior year of high school, I have mentored the incoming freshman class as they journey through their senior year.

In addition to my opportunity as a GMS, I also became a Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar. Through HSF, I attended the 2018 inaugural Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) as a summit counselor and mentor for low-income and first-generation high school seniors. The YLS educates high school students on scholarships, college application process, financial literacy, and much more. Many of my mentees clearly felt a sense of relief by having someone they can identify with and learning about all the resources available to them. Students who come from minority backgrounds need to see themselves reflected in professional settings. It is vital to highlight minority individuals who are accomplishing significant milestones. If minority students have mentors in their preferred career, they can then connect and find a similar path. As a low-income and first-generation student, I did not have the resources or contacts on my own to achieve success but having mentors and programs like HSF and GMS make a difference.

Mentorship gives me a new perspective on how to tackle certain obstacles and turn that into victories. Understanding the value of mentorship, I decided on attending a smaller institution. With smaller class sizes, I can more easily build relationships with professors who understand my potential and can connect me with people in my field. Through my experiences, I’ve learned that professors want to help students, but sometimes those of us from minority backgrounds may be less willing, if not scared, to ask for help. However, we should not be hesitant to ask questions. Asking for help makes our success story that much more impactful, and after all, success doesn’t happen alone.

Jonathan Herrera is a student at Santa Clara University and was a Fall 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Your Burning Questions about Dual Enrollment, Answered.

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

girl in robotics class research electronic device

Imagine graduating from high school with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. You may think it sounds too good to be true, but dual enrollment programs can make this a reality for many high school students.

Because there are no universal federal guidelines that exist to determine how dual enrollment programs are structured, there tends to be a great deal of variation between programs. So what exactly is dual enrollment?

In short, dual enrollment allows students to access college classes and achieve college credit before they graduate high school.

How exactly does dual enrollment work?  Here are some answers to the top five most frequently asked questions:

What is the difference between dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment?

Dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment are both program options that allow students to earn college credit while they are still in high school. In some states the difference between dual and concurrent enrollment lies in where a course is taught and who teaches it. For example, in Wyoming, dual enrollment courses are taught by college instructors at the college, outreach center, or online, while concurrent enrollment courses are taught at the high school by a college-approved high school teacher.

What is the difference between AP courses and dual enrollment?

Dual enrollment courses allow students to get early access to college content in college courses. AP courses are different because they only result in college credit if a student earns a particular score on an AP exam at the end of the course and if the college that the student enrolls in accepts AP scores for course credit. This means students who complete a dual enrollment program have a college transcript at the end of their experience and can enroll directly in the college where they started or transfer these courses if they move to another college or university. AP courses on the other hand result in an AP score that can be submitted to a college and the college has their own matrix to decide if the score will amount to any college credit.

How does dual enrollment relate to career pathways?

Dual enrollment programs can serve as a fast track for students toward a career pathway that aligns with college courses and curriculum. For example, a student interested in a nursing program at a community college might complete all their nursing prerequisite courses in a dual enrollment program in high school. This way, after high school graduation they are ready to immediately enroll in the nursing curriculum at the community college.

How could Education Freedom Scholarships expand access to dual enrollment?

Education Freedom Scholarships could have significant positive impacts on dual enrollment programs and the students enrolled in these courses. Education Freedom Scholarships would allow students to leverage dual enrollment opportunities that may not be available in their area or district. Additionally, Education Freedom Scholarships can assist in covering allowable educational expenses such as transportation, tools, personal protective equipment, and more.

How does dual enrollment benefit students?

Research on dual enrollment suggests that students who enroll in these courses in high school are more academically successful when they transfer schools, have an easier transition from high school to college, are less likely to need remediation, and save both time and money in earning their degrees.

Visit to learn more about dual enrollment.

The Challenge of College

For me, I knew that every part of the K-12 educational journey was meant to prepare me to get accepted into a great college. The application process was challenging and competitive, yet I managed to be accepted to a great state school. However, what happened after I got in was a foreign concept to me, and I was unaware of what was to come. So much focus had been placed on getting into college, but no one ever told me how to succeed once there. For instance, my freshman classes averaged two hundred students and were filled with classmates who had graduated at the top of their class from prestigious high schools. The thought of raising my hand and asking for help while hundreds of pairs of eyes stared at me was horrifying. Therefore, I attempted to do it on my own and pretended that I knew what was happening in class.

The reality was that I could not keep up with the material, especially in my biological calculus course. The class was more advanced than what I had learned in high school, and I did not have strong studying and organizational habits. As hard as I tried, I scored poorly on my exams, and my confidence started to break down. I felt alone as I watched my classmates earn higher grades and answer questions without hesitation. I felt like I could not tell my parents because they had so much to worry about back home and were already having a hard time with me being away. If I dropped the class, then I would no longer be a full-time student. This meant that I would lose some of my financial aid, which I could not afford to do. The idea of failing this class continued to cross my mind, and it dawned on me what a failure I was. I couldn’t help but think of my family members, teachers and scholarship donors who had believed in me. I am not sure whether it was fear, pride or a bit of both that led me to remain silent and not ask for help.

I was home over winter break when I received my grade, and I couldn’t keep this away from my parents any longer. I had earned a D in biological calculus. I thought that they would be disappointed. I worried that they would feel as if all the sacrifices they had made for my future would go down the drain because of this mark on my transcript. However, my mom’s reaction could not have been more graceful and understanding. Instead, she wiped away my tears and asked about my struggles through the class.

I had allowed for my struggles to eat me up inside for so long. However, I came to realize that this one grade did not have to define me, my parents’ sacrifices, or the community I represent. I did not need to burden myself with thoughts of being a disappointment or another hopeless statistic. What would truly define this moment in my college career would be my next steps. That winter break I searched through all the resources on my school’s website, re-read my new student handbook, and found ways to improve my time management and study habits. I began the semester by meeting with my advisor and older college friends, making appointments at the academic success center, and attending the tutoring sessions. I learned the importance of shining light on my weaknesses and advocating for myself.

Each university has a wide variety of resources, whether you are struggling with academics, living situations, mental health, or finances. There are people who can offer guidance and support. However, no one can help you if you don’t admit that you need it and ask for it. Since then, my GPA has improved each semester, and I am not afraid to raise my hand in class when I am lost. I have encouraged younger students to self-advocate. I remind them that hardships will come, but they can decide how they respond. Most importantly, I have continued to rely on the unconditional love and support from my parents by sharing all parts of my college experience, even the most challenging ones.

Valentina Tovar is a graduate of Texas A&M University and a Summer 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Follow the Rainbow of Happiness

As a first-generation student, I felt intimidated by the idea of college. I knew I wanted to attend college but had no idea what college entailed other than  anecdotal experiences I had heard from my teachers. I was accepted and offered a substantive financial aid package from the University of California, Merced (UC Merced). My high school A.V.I.D. teacher, Mr. Beale, emphasized the importance of moving, “as far away as possible to reach [my] full potential.” I chose to attend UC Merced with high academic expectations. I grew up in San Diego, CA, only ten minutes away from the border in a busy city full of diversity. Moving to UC Merced put me nine hours away from my family and in a rural area that I never had experienced. The geographic and ethnic demographic of UC Merced was something that impacted me in a way I had never experienced. For instance, I had never even seen a sky so vividly dark with little light pollution.

I had also never lived on my own without my family and at the age of seventeen, everything felt new, exciting, and intimidating. While I created a strong support system at UC Merced, I still had severe issues with self-efficacy. I felt insecure as if I wasn’t at the same academic rigor as my peers. This comparison was self-deteriorating. It affected the way I saw myself, how I interacted with others, and externally affected my academics. I wasn’t happy where I was at.

I signed up for the Success Mentor Program, an organization that paired me up with a mentor. I was paired with Diana Hernandez. The Success Mentor Program allowed for growth in a way that was fully supported by my mentor. Meetings with my mentor were decided by us and our conversations were not limited. I was supported in every way possible, and Diana always had a resource for any issue that arose. I felt comfortable speaking with her about any topic, which also made me feel confident in any new experience I would have. I had someone who was older, wiser, and successful guiding me over similar obstacles she had experienced. More importantly, Diana fully understood my discomfort about being in an environment where I felt like I did not belong. She explained, “When you feel like that, remember that every single person is in that room with you. No one is better than another; you are all in the same room.This continues to resonate with me.

Although one person could not cure my self-efficacy issues, it burst a sense of confidence in the way that I approached college. But, building a sense of confidence was only one step towards the ladder of achievement. I was placed on academic probation during my first year of college and was forced to re-evaluate my focus and happiness. I was a bio-engineering major at that time and was more interested in writing than any other course work. I changed majors to Management and Business Economics with a minor in Professional Writing. I felt like I had failed myself in that point of time. However, this decision changed my perception. I had the opportunity to pursue activities that I enjoyed. Previously, I consistently felt drained studying material that I did not find as interesting as writing. This was the first time I was able to turn a hobby into something professional. I often wrote for fun but didn’t think I could make tangible change through my writing. I joined The Prodigy News, The UC Merced school newspaper, and was able to witness the impact that writing had and its potential for stirring up change when utilized properly. This thirst for change led me to join the Associated Students of University of California, Merced.

This change of mindset created a ripple effect on my of happiness. Even when college got increasingly more difficult and I felt like quitting, I didn’t because what I was doing made me feel happy and fulfilled. I sincerely encourage others to follow their rainbow of happiness. Go apply for jobs, join organizations, and enroll in classes that create a sense of inner fulfillment. If you do things that make you happy, you will always want to move forward.

Katherine Cervantes is a graduate of the University of California, Merced and a Fall 2017 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Falling Into Place

“Congratulations! You have been accepted into the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.” When I read that line, I was clearly excited, but then wondered, what now? So many thoughts rushed into my mind. Will I make friends? Will I enjoy college? What will be my major? I had numerous things to contemplate. While there were social concerns, I wanted to focus on my academic concerns because these were things that I had control over. So, I spent hours researching in front of the computer, brainstorming different degree plans, comparing how they connected for my future aspirations, and eating tons of sweets to keep my stress tolerable. At this point of my life, I only knew two things: one, I was going to college; and two, I wanted to become an attorney. In fact, my dream career was to become an immigration lawyer. However, what was my major in college going to be?

I knew what subjects I liked and what I didn’t like. I knew that physical science was not my passion; English was interesting. History intrigued me. But would I be happy for four years in those majors? Probably not. What was left? The only one I thought of was government. That is what I craved. When I was checking the list of majors along with their degree plans, I kept my goal of becoming an attorney at the back of my mind. I knew that all majors were accepted by law schools, so no major was more desirable than another. It was my choice on what field of study I wanted to spend the next four years. I asked myself a few questions. What was I most interested in? What will best prepare me for law school? What if I do not want to become a lawyer anymore? What will be my backup plan? After all this thinking, I solidified my decision to major in political science.

With my goal of becoming an attorney, I knew that studying government would be beneficial. Majoring in political science interested me because I felt that it would give me a foundation of what would be the beginning of my future career. I knew that this major was perfect for me when I took the course Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties. This class was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, but it expanded my knowledge on every level—political, social, and personal. Despite its difficulty, I knew in my gut that I made the right choice.

Today, I can truthfully say that I made the right decision. Studying political science in college made a positive impact on my goal to be an attorney. Without making this decision, I would have never been able to intern for a federal agency, study and prepare for the LSAT, and start applications for law school. So, I would like to say, trust your instinct and be informed as you follow your dreams.

Crystal Guerva is a graduate of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin and she was a Fall 2017 U.S. Department of Education intern.

Discovering a Personal Journey

I was born and raised in a small town in the central valley of California. With an opportunity to attend the University of California, Merced (UC Merced), I faced one of the most challenging question of applying to colleges, what is your intended major? Even with my previous experience in classes, community service and music, it was still unclear to me which major would best fit my future career goals. I was interested in working with people and supporting youth in communities, but these elements fit within a multitude of disciplines. I decided that it was best for me to take some time to try out different classes and see what I was passionate about; therefore, I enrolled at UC Merced as an undeclared student.

As a first-generation Chicana and daughter of immigrants, I often felt the pressure to have a clear path for my major and career field. With the support of my family, mentors and scholarship organizations, I did not want to waste any time or disappoint the many who supported my educational journey. During my time as an undeclared student, I was proactive in the search for a major by meeting with career advisors, going to conferences, attending workshops and speaking with people in the different fields. I connected with three mentors from the career and transition support departments and made it a priority to speak with them at least two times every semester. Despite this, every class registration period, I worried that the courses I signed up for would not fulfill degree requirements once I declared a major. Looking back now, every course I took, whether fulfilling my major or not, guided my path to pursue the education field. Above all, my student positions as a peer academic advisor for undeclared students and an orientation leader allowed me to see my passion for helping students and their families navigate the college transition.

Through my college experiences, I was drawn to the study of sociocultural anthropology and changed my major after originally declaring in chemistry. The field of anthropology focuses on the human experience through the human perspective, giving agency to local communities through ethnographies, archaeology, biology and storytelling. Now, as I look forward to my final semester as an anthropology major, I can see how this field of study will guide my ambitions for a career in education and administration.

There are thousands of career options to explore nationally and globally, and one major can lead to countless opportunities in existing fields and new fields that will develop in the coming years. Use the resources at your campus to choose a major that will allow you to study a field of your interest, while also preparing you for your next step in life. As a good mentor once advised me, the decisions you make about your career and education are choices that do not dictate where you will be for the rest of your life, just where your next step will be.

Yaqeline Castro was a Fall 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She is a graduate of the University of California, Merced.

Parent Like a Pro: Slowing the Summer Slide

This post was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education’s blog, Homeroom.

Young boy exploring nature in a meadow with a magnifying glass looking for insects

Learning doesn’t have to fall by the wayside just because school is out. Use these five parent pro tips to keep your child learning and having fun over the summer months.

1.) “Summer”ize your Summer Activities

After completing a fun activity with your child this summer – such as going to the zoo, park, pool, etc. – have your child tell you about it. Ask questions like:

  • What happened?
  • Who was there?
  • Why was this significant?
  • What was the most important thing that took place?

The more you engage with your child and allow them to give detailed accounts of activities, the stronger their summarizing and paraphrasing skills will be once they return to school.

2.) Count the Change

Keep your children’s math game strong by allowing them to make cash purchases on your behalf. After each cash purchase, give the change to your children and have them count it. As they get more change, and they count that (addition), give them the task of buying something. Ask them if they have roughly enough (estimation). If they do, have them buy the item and calculate the change (subtraction). If they don’t have enough, ask them to figure out how much more they will need (subtraction). Don’t use cash often? No worries. After each purchase, have your child calculate the change they would get if they rounded the change up to the next dollar.

3.) Seek the Silver Screen

Beat the summer heat by making a day of going to the movies with your child at an air-conditioned theatre. Take your children to see at least two movies. Then, have them compare and contrast the plots, main characters, conflict, and resolution. You can also have them think of alternate endings or movie extensions. In addition to practicing critical thinking through comparison activities, they are also engaging in summarizing, evaluating, and synthesizing ideas – all high-level learning skills that can be constantly built upon – regardless of grade or age.

4.) Creature Feature

Create outdoor learning experiences over the summer with creatures and plants that surround you and your child. Give your student a container to catch an insect or hold a plant or creature. Then, help them research what they caught. Have them write down a few facts about the insect, plant, or creature – what it is, where it’s found, how it grows, how to take care of it, etc. Finally, display the container with the written facts. Allow your children to practice the catch, report, and release activity several times throughout the summer so they can constantly be learning about the environment around them.

5.) If You Build It, They Will Play

Keep your child’s mind stimulated by exercising their imagination. A great activity to start with is to pretend that there is no electricity or batteries for electronic games. Using just the materials that can be found in your house, have them engineer their own game. They should create written rules that explain how the game is played and how to win. Next, play with them. This activity requires children to reimagine new ways to solve problems. And who knows, if your electricity does go out, you’ll be entertained for hours!

Cynthia O’Brien is a 5thGrade Math/Science teacher from Maywood, Illinois and 2018-2019 School Ambassador Fellow with the US Department of Education. 

On the Road to College: Exploring and Taking Chances

Growing up, I was a very curious child, and I am very grateful that my parents always fostered this trait in me. This curiosity always served me well in school, but there were limits. My mind could only imagine and explore things it was already been exposed to, and in some areas, there was much that I, a first-generation American with high-school educated parents, missed out on. Because my parents never attended college, I lacked the deep knowledge about college that my peers seemed to have. I never dreamed about attending an esteemed university or having an extraordinary career, and it wasn’t until beginning the college application process in my senior year that I really started thinking about what college and career would be best for me.

It was during this time period when I was particularly thankful for my curiosity. Once I finally realized how much knowledge I lacked about college, I was not disappointed that I was so far behind my peers. Rather, I was relieved. One of the main reasons students don’t achieve high levels of success is because they aren’t aware of available resources—basically, they don’t know what they don’t know. Because I was now aware of what I needed to learn, I was able to harness my curiosity to fuel my college and career search. Not wanting to stray too far from home, I applied to several Texas universities. Luckily, I was granted admission to each of my top choice schools, but I still had a tremendous amount of stress. I had no clue how I was going to pay for school, and I knew there was little my mother could do to support me.

However, during the fall of my senior year, I received an email that gave me hope. One of the programs at another school I applied to, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), was looking for applicants, and although it wasn’t my top choice school, driven by my curiosity, I checked out the opportunity. I found that their Top Scholar program provided everything I could possibly need: a full merit scholarship, a close-knit community of friends, one-on-one connections with faculty mentors, and a funded study abroad experience. It sounded too perfect, like something that would be for only the best of the best—something I could certainly never get into. Despite my doubt, I stared at the application every day until one day, I had the guts to fill it out and turn it in right before the deadline. For a couple weeks, I forgot about it and went on with my scholarship search, until I received an email with good news: I was offered an interview for the program.

A couple of weeks of stress, one interview, and some anxious tears later, I was offered a spot in the UTSA Top Scholar program, one of the most life-changing opportunities I have received in my life. With my family’s support, I accepted the offer and finalized my acceptance to UTSA. A couple months later, without the burden of financial stress and a promise of new opportunities, I was able to leave home for college with an excitement untainted by any stress and grateful for the chances this program was giving me. Had I never read the initial email with information about the Top Scholar program, I don’t know where I would be, but I’m thankful I took the chance.

Even with the financial burden of college out of the picture, transitioning into college was still a difficult experience. As a college freshman and first-generation college student, I was in a new land—one that hundreds of hours of research probably could not have prepared me for. I was hundreds of miles away from my family and friends, and I felt like I was already falling behind before I even began. Luckily, the community I had in my scholarship program gave me the support I needed to adjust to college life. Because the program was small, with only about 19 people, and most of us lived in a dorm together, the group was tight-knit. These people immediately became my best friends; we ate meals together, studied together, joined the same organizations, and even took some of the same classes. In a couple of weeks, I no longer felt as though I was alone at my university. I had friends that genuinely cared about me and with similar interests, ambition, and dedication to doing well in school.

When you are young, you feel comfortable exploring, even if you are alone, because you know you have a home to come back to; this program and my peers became home to me. Because of them, I became more comfortable at UTSA and gained more confidence to begin exploring what my school had to offer. I took any opportunity I could find to try something new, such as taking classes outside my major, joining organizations that looked interesting, and utilizing my connections to talk to people about their careers.

None of that would have been possible without my new family, and especially, my willingness to take chances. Maybe I have had good luck in the past, but I firmly believe in taking risks and that trying out different paths is one of the most important things you can do in life. I would not be where I am now without taking chances, and I can only imagine where I would be if I tried to stifle the curiosity that carried me to where I am now.

Brianna Diaz was a Fall 2017 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and a graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

National College Signing Day

May 1st is the most common deadline among colleges and universities for students to make their choice. Akin to when prospective football athletes choose which college to play for, this day is celebrated when high school students choose their college and university. Across the country, schools host assemblies and ceremonies where students proudly declare the college they intend to attend in the fall. National College Signing Day is a day that each student can proudly share where they will attend, whether a 2-year community college, 4-year university, or another postsecondary education route.

We celebrate all our students, especially our first-generation students, for choosing their destination in higher education. For many students, it has been a struggle. They may have had to juggle family responsibilities with school. Others had to work while attending school. Overall, we commend each student that has persevered and succeeded so far. It is an incredible accomplishment and a step towards a productive career.

Choosing a college can be daunting. It may be a student’s first real adult decision. There are comparisons between colleges on factors such as financial aid packages, academic rigor, student activities offered, transferability of credits, and the college location. Each is important, so a decision should take into account many of these considerations.

Once a decision has been made, students may have questions about postsecondary education between National College Signing Day and the first day of classes. If it’s financial aid questions, check out the Federal Student Aid resources to help answer your questions. If it’s learning more about a specific college, the College Navigator tool can provide additional information. If t’s learning about potential career options, explore the CareerOneStop site and discover the education requirements for each career option.

For first-generation students, it may be difficult to comprehend what they’ll experience when they step onto the college campus in the fall. Throughout the summer, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics will be sharing first-person accounts of college experiences through the Student Voices blog series. Most of the blogs are from first-generation students, and they will be sharing a spectrum of experiences from choosing a major to thriving in college away from home. These stories are available to let you know that there have been others who have been in your shoes as you prepare for attending college in the fall. You can find these stories here.

Emmanuel Caudillo is the senior advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics