Uplift scholars from the Aspiring Senior Ambassador Program (ASAP) visited college campuses in Philadelphia, Boston and Texas during summer vacation.
ASAP provides scholars with leadership development, additional college counseling and increased exposure to Uplift college partners.
Scholars selected for the 2016-2017 program submitted their application in early December and were notified in mid-December of their acceptance. Six scholars were selected from campuses with a graduating class for 2016-2017. A total of 42 scholars were selected for ASAP.
The program is two part: ASAP scholars began the program with “Exploring Your College Options” the group was divided into two teams, Team Boston and Team Philly. Scholars during their application indicated their preference between the two. Based on scholar’s interest of colleges in those areas they are placed on each team. Scholars in each group spent five days and four nights at their designated city.
For 17 year-old Cynthia Ramos of Uplift North Hills it looked like everything just fell into place. The rising senior had begun to research liberal art colleges and came across Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia. Ramos signed up to receive information about the school but knew the next step was to visit the campus.
A week later Ramos’ Road To College counselor announced to scholars that applications for ASAP were available.
“It was like everything came together,” said Ramos.
Ramos selected Philadelphia on her application and a few months later was notified she had been accepted.
Scholars on Team Philly visited Swarthmore, Lafayette University, Muhlenberg College, Haverford College, University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.
“It’s like speed-dating. I told my dad, you have to go out there and see what type of college you like,” said Paola Carrillo, 17 of Uplift Luna.
The visits allowed scholars to explore more options outside of Texas and make connections with admissions counselors at perspective schools of their interest.
“The trip really opened my mind,” said Carrillo. “It is important to make connections with counselors so that when you apply you have already built that relationship.”
For some scholars it was the first time being away from their parents for such a long period or the furthest they had traveled.
“It was a way to prove to myself that I can be on my own, ” said Ramos, “I can go out of Texas.”
The visit solidified for Ramos her interest in Swarthmore.
“It is one thing to see it on paper, you have to go there and see it in person,” said Carrillo who plans to pursue a career in engineering.
The second group of 21 scholars visited Boston.
Jocelyn Maruffo, 17 of Uplift Peak was initially interested in attending Harvard but through her ASAP visit she found Brandeis University to be one of her now top schools.
Scholars heard from Dean of Diversity Jamele Adams from Brandeis who energized and excited scholars with his poetry on social justice.
Maruffo who is interested in pursuing a career in education or law found Adams’ poetry inspirational and one of the moments scholars shared with Team Philly scholars.
“The visits allowed me to look at how I would like my education to fit (academics, location and activities),” said Maruffo.
Scholars on Team Boston visited Amherst College, Babson College, Bently University, Boston University, Brandeis, Bryant University, Clark University, Emmanuel College, College of the Holy Cross, Regis College, Stonehill College, Tufts University, Wellesley College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The visits gave Maruffo an insight look at what she wanted from a college or university from clubs and activities to the location. The 17 year-old was excited to learn that colleges offered clubs in anything from Disney Princesses to professional organizations.
The senior at Uplift Peak plans to apply to college fly-in programs before she decides which colleges she will apply and attend.
“It could look amazing on paper but you have to know what it is like before you commit yourself,” said Maruffo.
Scholars returned to Texas and regrouped at Austin College in Sherman, Texas to talk about their experiences. Both groups spent the night in the freshman dorm giving scholars another look at college life.
For some scholars it was the first time in a dorm with a community bathroom. Andrea Solano, 17 of Uplift Luna did not mind sharing a room or the community bathrooms but it was not like staying at a hotel.
“I think some of us were use to our hotel rooms and the dorms are not like that at all,” said Solano.
The trip to Austin College was not only to give scholars a look at a local college but a time to discuss their experiences on their trips. Scholars introduced themselves and discussed what they were interested in and looking for in a college which allowed each group to give suggestions on places they visited to check out.
“We all applied to ASAP for a reason and it was nice to meet scholars from other schools because some will applying and attending the same college as other Uplift scholars, it will be comforting (to have a bit of home),” said Solano.