Shanima – Bennett College

Shanima wanted to go to college "to become a more well-rounded person and to be the first in my family to graduate college. It means a lot to me. It's one of the goals I've set for myself."

Hard Work and Being "Part of the Reach for College! Family" Paid Off

Shanima worked hard to achieve her goal to go to college. "I've studied hard. I get good grades. I took the SAT. I apply myself in everything I do. And I have been part of the Reach for College! family which has helped me."

Being in the Reach for College! class and Saturday Academy helped Shanima to navigate the college process. Shanima said when she first learned about the process to get to college, "I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what it took to go to college. But I was ready to embark on this new journey that I always dreamt about. I just didn't know what it took to get there."

Learning to Write a Good Paper is the Foundation to Getting into College

Getting there, Shanima believes that learning how to write a good paper is the foundation to getting into college. "You have to have an essay to get into college. Good writing is basic. In DCPS there are a lot of things I missed along the way." Being in good English classes in my high school and having the Reach for College! program focus on essay-writing has been very beneficial. What has been difficult is to get all the college applications and financial aid forms done.

Her advice to high school seniors, "When you apply to a college make sure YOU check up on your status." Shanima had to wait a long time to hear from one college that she was very interested in attending. She had to constantly check for updates on her application.

In the Reach for College! Class We "Cheered Each Other On"

Other components of the RFC program gave Shanima the support and encouragement to get to college. In her RFC class, she and her classmates "cheered each other on. It was all of us getting into college. We're all trying to make it. Why not help each other along the way?"

She says the RFC guest speakers were very beneficial. They "basically broadened my horizons. They helped me to complete the FAFSA. They showed me college is attainable and if you want to do it, you can do it."

The College Visits Were "an Eye-Opener."

For example, she knew nothing of American University. "I didn't know it existed. AU was the most interesting [college visit] because it was in D.C. and you didn't expect it to be so diverse." Shanima credits the college visits with providing new experiences. "Before visiting U.VA and AU, we were stuck on HBCUs."

The Reach for College! Saturday Academy helped her to visit places that "I wouldn't have visited without them. How can you be from D.C. and not know" about your city?

"Never Doubt Yourself. Stay Determined."

Shanima feels that if more students from her community knew how to get into college, "it would create a better environment. A lot of people doubt themselves and others doubt them. If they knew how to get to college they would help their community." Her advice: Never doubt yourself. Stay determined."

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