Samaya Allen
Samaya Allen

“I had a student at Madison High School. He was the sweetest guy. He never thought he was going to go to college. It wasn’t talked about. He didn’t think it was for him. He was a rapper. He was like ‘I’m just gonna rap or make my own music.’

Then [my team and I] came into the classrooms doing presentations [on colleges] because Madison is a school where the majority of students are probably thinking of college and some of them are probably thinking straight to the workforce. So, we came in telling them the opportunities that they have. Even if you don’t think you can get into college, there are opportunities that you really do have.

Discovering that, [the student] actually came into the college center one day, and he basically was like, ‘I want to do something in music production.’ So I told him about Texas Southern University. They have an entertainment industry program if you want to work for a music label and things like that. And he was like ‘I have to get into it.’

He had worked his hardest that last year. Yes, his GPA wasn’t the highest but he made it work. He almost got accepted, but the issue was with his endorsement. Unfortunately because of his transfer from Louisiana to Texas [his credits didn’t transfer], but he still didn’t give up. At the end of the day, he did end up going to Texas College.

I loved working with him every step of the way. I remember when I was leaving [Madison], I sent a message to all my students, letting them know I was gonna be leaving and then if they had any more questions to let me know now. He sent a whole thank-you letter to me and my team, saying how he never thought he would have that opportunity [to go college]. It’s something that was just so sweet. It tears me up a little bit. That was a big moment for me.”

(Provided by Samaya Allen)
Jelicia Hunt
Jelicia Hunt

“My dad used to say ‘Your window starts out this big, and as you get older, that window gets smaller and smaller.’

I went to Eisenhower High School, and my senior year I didn’t know about Texas A&M University. I didn’t know about UT or UH. I’m serious. No one had ever spoken to me about universities. I was number nine out of like 590 kids, so not only was I in the top 10 percent, I was an auto admit to UT. But I was like, ‘I’m going to A&M.’

[My school] took me on a bus to Aggieland. I saw happy people running around, walking dogs. It was just a beautiful change of pace, you know, and I said to myself, ‘I want to give this to other people.’ Coming back during holidays or on weekends, I would see my neighborhood and I would see the violence and the poverty and I would be like, ‘Man, we don’t have to be like this.’

My last year [of college], I started looking into different careers that I could pursue. I wanted to make a change somewhere. Somehow I want to help people, and I want to see them succeed. So I found AdviseTX, which was through Texas A&M University. It’s basically college advising. I did that for two years at MacArthur High School in Aldine ISD, and I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’

I want to give others, kids specifically, the opportunity that I didn’t have. That’s why I am here today.”

Braeden Fields
Braeden Fields

“So my high school experience is really just the people that I’ve met, it’s really the people I’ve met that made high school useful for me to write about because there have been a lot of people in my life like teachers such as Mr. Byrd, Mr. Hall and Ms. Andrews. All three of them were teachers who were amazing and really helped shape my interests and introduced me to different groups like FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes]. I really fell in love with history because Mr. Hall and Ms. Andrews got me a lot of opportunities through graphic design, and I’ve gotten to do a couple of different internships and freelance projects because of it. It’s really been the people here who have been able to make it so that I could use these experiences for college.

Ms. Quinn and Ms. Allen from the college center are always very helpful. If they need me to do something, I can do it. I don’t have to be in a classroom; I’m not gonna lie, I hate being stuck in one seat forever. I’m really trying to hammer away at my college essays, and this gives me like an hour structured into my day. I can focus on scholarships. I can focus on my application. So I’m super stressed right now, but here, I can just relax.

I’m at the college center every day, but for the most part, it’s presenting scholarships for opportunities they have like packets full of different scholarships. Ms. Allen and Ms. Hunt show you possible college documents and help you be realistic with where your chances lie. They don’t give you false hope, and they will be honest with you, but they’re not going to try and hurt you in any way.”

(Provided by Braeden Fields)
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