College MAP Mentoring for Access and Persistence

Best essays from the class of 2011
June 2011

Table of contents
Page 2 A letter from Gary Belske, Senior Vice Chair and Chief Operating Officer Celebrating the accomplishments of the 2011 College MAP Scholars Page 3

Page 4–21 Winning college admissions essays
Page 4 Page 6 Page 8 Expect the worst but hope for the best Taylor C., Atlanta, Georgia Overcoming loss by helping other heal Olasha L., Boston, Massachusetts Into the light Lauren L., Chicago, Illinois

Page 10 Chosen to dream Alejandro L., Dallas, Texas Page 12 Another Cinderella story Queen N., Denver, Colorodo Page 14 The secret ingredient Dennis Luis P., New York, New York Page 16 What I’ve learned from my sister Donna R., Palo Alto/San Jose, California Page 18 Motivation Hannah G., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Page 20 What bothers me? Jia Ahsan M., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Page 23 Page 24

The power of mentors: an interview Making college a reality: a roadmap for current high school students

You can learn more about College MAP at Corporate-Responsibility/CR—Education-closes-opportunity-gap-for-low-income-students.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

About College MAP
Many high school students don’t consider going to college. The goal seems too distant, the application process too confusing, the cost too expensive and the rewards too unclear. At Ernst & Young, our people are working to remove these obstacles. We want not only to encourage students to apply for college, but also to help them succeed once they get there. Our latest effort, a US-based initiative called College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence) was developed in collaboration with College For Every Student, a not-for-profit organization that has helped thousands of disadvantaged students get on the path to college. Through College MAP, we help demystify the process of applying to and affording college, encouraging students who might not have considered applying for college to do so. College MAP matches teams of Ernst & Young Mentors with groups of high school students for monthly sessions focused on getting to college. The group mentoring design allows allocation of responsibility among the volunteers (i.e., team members who cannot attend all sessions may still participate). Mentors receive training prior to the program’s start, in addition to three webinars throughout the calendar year to share best practices and navigate through tough issues. College MAP Mentors are provided with a curriculum and a resource center, and take turns leading monthly sessions, enabling them to enhance presentation and engagement skills. One distinctive feature of College MAP is the focus on persistence. In addition to helping students apply to college, Ernst & Young mentors also work with them to build the skills that will help them persist in completing their four-year degree, including: • Awareness of the lifelong benefits of getting a higher education • Financial readiness that helps students apply for aid and pay for college • Persistence skills to help students complete a degree and succeed in careers


A letter from College MAP program sponsor Gary Belske
One of the great privileges of serving as the executive sponsor for Ernst & Young's College MAP program is the opportunity to meet some inspiring young people. It doesn’t matter that our College MAP Scholars are not yet old enough to vote. These young men and women command respect because of the many obstacles they have overcome in order to think of themselves as potential college graduates. Their commitment to expanding their minds and their futures through education demands admiration. We wanted to give you the chance to hear their stories, so we asked our first class of College MAP high school seniors to write about their journey toward a college education. The very best of those essays are printed here. At Ernst & Young, we started College MAP because we believe it is essential for businesses like ours to address the widening gap between the demands of the workplace and the educational attainment of America’s young people. Our own organization hires thousands of recent college graduates every year; and increasingly, we look for candidates who match the diversity of our global clientele. However, there is a personal aspect to this effort as well. Approximately a third of us at Ernst & Young are also the first in our families to attend a four-year college. So we are keenly aware of the difficulties of blazing a new trail when no one in your family has taken it before — and feel a great obligation to help those coming along after us. Many of our College MAP Scholars have significant challenges to overcome and they are surmounting them. Their essays make clear that these young men and women are natural role models. As they fulfill their own potential, they may also make their family members and friends more aware of their potential — as well as inspiring the rest of us with a sense of hope for the future. Gary Belske Senior Vice Chair and Americas Chief Operating Officer


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

Did you know?
An education can mean the difference between succeeding in life and just getting by.* • A child from a low-income family who graduates from a college or university has a greater than 80% chance of joining the middle class or better. Without higher education, that child’s odds are less than 40%. • Of all new jobs created in the early 21st century, 85% will require a college education. • Low-income families are 32% less likely to send their children to college than families with higher incomes. And only 6% of low-income students ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree, compared with 40% of high-income students. • College completion rates for minority students are lower than for nonminority students. Fewer than 18 percent of African-Americans and just 11 percent of Hispanics earn a bachelor’s degree, compared with almost a third of whites, ages 25 to 29.

Celebrating the accomplishments of the 2011 College MAP Scholars
In 2011, the first class of Ernst & Young College MAP Scholars will graduate from high school and go onto pursue college degrees in education, business, engineering – even the culinary arts. These students are a diverse group: they come from nine different cities, many are first or second generation Americans, their interests range from sports to music to technology. Some have endured personal hardship; most come from families where they (or a sibling) will be the first to attend university; all will require financial aid to complete their education. Acceptance to college is a major milestone that opens up many possibilities for them. We asked the Ernst & Young College MAP Program Managers from across the US to share with us our Scholars' best college admissions essays from this past year. We asked them to identify essays that exemplify the commitment these students have made to their education, the challenges that have shaped them and the value that they see in pursuing higher education. This was not an easy choice; all of our Scholars wrote with integrity and with a sense of purpose. They wrote from the heart. We hope the essays in this book will inspire you: • To apply to college if you are a high school student • To volunteer as a mentor and to help a young person achieve his or her dream • To support efforts in your community to expand access to education for disadvantaged youth Our best wishes to all the 2011 graduating seniors, and especially to our 2011 College MAP Scholars.

*Sources: Brooking Institute's study, "Higher Education May Slow Mobility Gap," America's Edge report, "The Skills Gap," US Department of Education and The New York Times.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Expect the worst but hope for the best
Taylor C.
Booker T. Washington High School Atlanta, Georgia Taylor plans to attend Columbus State University and study Aerospace Engineering.

“Anything you set your mind on can become more than a dream. It can become a reality.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

I once asked my father about a quote I used to use for everything. “Expect the worst, but hope for the best.” He said that there were two ways to
look at it; there was a pessimistic or an optimistic view to consider. That made me wonder if I was a pessimist or an optimist. Both have more in common than just being a part of the same theory. Mind, Power, Thought, Vibration, or in other words “The Law of Attraction,” meaning that anything that you think can contradict how your daily life will be. Think positive, life becomes positive; think negative, and life converts to a negative state. It began to make me wonder about how I viewed my life. Did I view my life in a positive state or a negative one? My results became clear when I finally decided to gulp down my fears of public rejection and signed my name on one of the most hair-raising lists in the history of Booker Taliaferro Washington High School: the Auxiliary Team tryouts. As silly as it sounds, the Auxiliary Team at my school is one of the most known and talked about. These young ladies are the constant reminder of what every other mademoiselle is not. They uphold beauty, grace, and unnerving confidence; three things that a wallflower like me at the time didn’t possess. But, something in that day just got me so sick and tired of being left in the shadows. See, I figured that if I could just make it on that team, I could switch from being an undesirable to an untouchable. Needless to say I showed up the next day ready to work for what I wanted. But as the day went on during tryouts, I just knew it wouldn’t work out in my favor for the simple fact that I could not get one turn, flip or dance step correct. “Why am I even here?”, I wondered and, slowly but surely, I began to drown myself in a seemingly never-ending sea of doubt. I quit and did the only thing I naturally knew how to do, ran home and cried to my father. He was disappointed to see that I had so quickly given up when I had only just begun. He told me that I couldn’t just live my whole life scared of rejection and that if I didn’t change that I could never achieve any goals in life. Suddenly, I realized how right he was, how much of a pessimist I was being by assuming that I could only achieve failure. With new confidence I strutted back into that gymnasium and took on any and every sassy fast-pace twist, turn and twirl they threw my way, and I ultimately succeeded in my goal and became a part of the Marching 100 Auxiliary Unit: Flag Corps-Blue Thunder! It showed me that if you believe in yourself and use your inner ability of positive thinking, anything you set your mind on can become more than a dream. It can become a reality.

Please note: these essays have been edited so that spelling, punctuation, etc. are consistent with Ernst & Young standards. The essays included represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Ernst & Young LLP.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Overcoming loss by helping others heal
Olasha L.
Madison Park Technical High School Boston, Massachusetts Olasha plans to study Nursing at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.*

“For me, it doesn’t matter how hard it is or how long it takes. I am determined to become a nurse.”

*Pending completion of prerequisite coursework


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

In my life, I have experienced many losses that have affected me and encouraged me to help other people who have been through the same or worse. My mom died when I was only two years old, so my two brothers and I were
raised by my father. When I was six years old, my eight-year-old brother suffered from a major asthma attack. We had just come back from picking up supplies for my older brother Lemark’s birthday party. Lemark’s asthma started acting up, so my dad gave him his medicine, but it just was not working. My dad called the EMS but they never came! So my dad picked up my eight-year-old brother and we all ran to the gas station, where we saw my dad’s friend getting some gas. We jumped in my dad’s friend’s car and on our way to the hospital, Lemark died in the front seat. I was in the back seat with Mark and at first I did not believe what was happening. But later that night when we got to my nana’s house, my whole family was outside on the porch crying; that’s when I knew he really was gone. After that, my dad started drinking a lot. This was scary and sad. I was always quiet, but after my brother’s death, I became even quieter. Wherever I was, I kept all of my feelings to myself. I thought no one could possibly understand what I had been through. Up until then, I had gotten along well with my dad; I always told him what I was thinking and feeling. But after he started drinking a lot, he seemed different, like he did not want to talk and wanted to just drink his problems away, so I did not open up to him anymore. That’s when I began to spend more time with Jackie, my godmother. She would pick me up after school and we would go to her house and she would help me with my homework. When I was with my godmother, I opened up because she always checked up on me to see how I was feeling. She also tried to show me more of life and taught me how to be a young lady. Most importantly, she encouraged me to go to college and dream about a career. Every year on Career Day, she would take me with her to Children’s Hospital, where she was a nursing assistant. When I saw how she made the patients comfortable and helped them, I said to myself, “I want to do that, too.” When I was 11, my godmother went to live with her family in Alabama and I moved in with my grandmother. Four years later, after being sick for a while, my dad died. I was fifteen. I felt sad and grew quiet again. But then I began to look to the future. I decided I wanted to be there for other families who are going through similar problems with sickness and loss. I felt I could relate to people who are sick and their families, and I wanted to help them and possibly even save them. I said to myself, “I don’t care what I have to go through; I want to become a nurse.” In my 10th grade year, seven months after my dad died, I got an internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital through the highly competitive Student Success Job Program. This program has taught me that my dream is possible. I realized while working in the Center for Women and Newborns that I want to be a nurse specializing in the care of newborns. I have also learned that I can be part of the whole hospital community and a member of the team. People in the hospital recognize me and say hi to me and, as a result, I have opened up a lot. I am still on the quiet side, but I talk a lot more now. Many of the patients have similar or worse stories than mine, so the hospital is a place where I feel comfortable. Many of the nurses, whom I have told my dream to, have encouraged me that the hospital community is a good place for me. My goal is to apply to college and study Nursing. I know that for me it doesn’t matter how hard it is or how long it takes. I am determined to become a nurse. Through a career in Nursing, I can fulfill my dream of supporting patients and families through some of the most difficult times of their lives. I want to make my parents, my brother and my godmother happy, and most importantly, I want to make myself happy.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Into the light
Lauren L.
Perspectives Leadership Academy Chicago, Illinois Lauren plans to study Theater at Eastern Illinois University.

“I made a promise that I was going to work my fingers to the bone and make a change in my life.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

I’m drowning in a sea of darkness, and I see a light coming towards me. The only thing I can think of is “not this again.” This is the third time this month that I have had this dream and I cannot wake up. The dream starts off
with me in complete darkness and a bright ball begins to move towards me. Only it’s not a ball, it’s the head of my eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Carol. She is yelling and spitting different words at me. “Slacker! Unsuccessful! Never going to amount to anything!” The next thing that comes to mind is her saying in her very thick Chicago accent, “What high school do you expect to get into with these scores?! Nobody will accept you!” Then a big hand reaches down and grabs me like a fishing hook. I wake up trying to figure out if this is really a dream or is it my reality? As months went on getting closer to my eighth grade graduation, I realized that the dream was becoming my reality. I was afraid. “I will never get into high school!” screamed in my mind. Then one day my pearly gates opened. Behind them was an acceptance letter to Perspectives Charter High School. I really had no plan on going to a charter school, especially because I had no idea what that meant. Honestly, I was just excited that I got one acceptance letter. To my own surprise, I made it to graduation. This was only the first step in a long road of many. My next challenge was to make my change for high school. I was afraid, but I would not let fear stand in my way. All through elementary school, I watched my mother struggle to make ends meet. She did everything to make me happy. I, on the other hand, never returned the favor. My mom would sit up late at night crying because I, her only daughter, was heading down a path of destruction. I never cared about school. My effort in school was like a worm trying to grow legs — never going to happen. Four years ago, I made a promise that I would never see my mother suffer and cry those tears again. I made a promise that I was going to work my fingers to the bone and make a change in my life by only working toward success. No more bad grades. No more fighting with my family. No more getting into trouble. I can achieve greatness. From the first moment that I walked into the doors of Perspectives Charter High School, I knew I was working for my own success. My grades have not been below a C; I keep my GPA well above 3.0; and I work hard to be an outgoing person. There have been times when I stumbled and thought that I was not going to be able to make it, but I did. Out of all four years of high school, senior year has been the toughest. The year started off with a new principal and all new rules. This was a challenge for me. I, along with my fellow classmates, was used to the rules that we had been going by for the past three years. This was an example to me that things are going to come up and you have to suck up and buck up. If you want success, you have to work for it. University life will be no different. It may be a challenge, but it will be overpowered by my greatness. I always try to give 100% in everything that I do. I know there may be some challenges as far as school work, but there is nothing that I can’t and will not do to overcome that. I plan to study hard, and if I ever need help, I will ask for it. That’s pretty much all you ever can do when you find yourself in a dilemma. Striving to be the best at everything that crosses my path is not only my first step to success but it is also the biggest. Nothing will stand in the way of making my life stronger and my brain larger. I am claiming success, and since it is said, then it will be done.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Chosen to dream
Alejandro L.
Kimball High School Dallas, Texas Alejandro will attend University of Texas at Arlington. He has not selected his major yet but is considering the Performing Arts, Music and Business.

“Step by step, I will come closer toward my goals and whatever my heart desires.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on October 20, 1992, but was temporarily raised by my mom in a small town in Mexico called San Felipe Torres Mochas. I was born poor, and my mom had to work day and night to at least afford something to eat. When I was four years old, I started to work at selling jellies and lollipops around the
neighborhood, because my “so called” father wouldn’t give us anything to eat. Sometimes we didn’t get to eat simply because of him and his addiction to alcohol. However, that heartless man had a kind brother that would bring us food, while our “so called” father was in the bar drinking. Each of us would call him dad more than we would to our biological father; but those were the old days and soon I started a new life here in Dallas, Texas, with my grandparents. I was separated from my mom, my three brothers and my two sisters, when I was just four years old, and I never really got a chance to grow up with my family. This is why my brothers and sisters, to this day, see me as a stranger when I’m around them. Growing up like this was a nightmare for me, because in school I would often see kids hanging around with their families and I was always standing all alone. I always felt lonely, insecure, afraid and unloved, but I never let anyone take notice of it. Five long years I lived like this, until my big brother Miguel was brought into the US by my grandparents for a better life and education. Even though we both went to the same school, and I hoped for a different experience, it was the same as it was before. Miguel would usually hang around with his friends and would ignore me and leave me out of the picture. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would always be by myself in every way. So I soon learned how to be more independent in every little thing that I wanted to do. You see, as a child I couldn’t speak English because it was hard for me to understand it. So I started to push myself to a whole new level that I never thought of ever reaching. Then, I went on to reading and listening to words that were in English. With the help of my teachers and friends, I started to communicate with others very well and that became my first achievement in life that I had accomplished on my own. In middle school, I was one of the smartest kids in class; there was nothing that I couldn’t do and nothing that could slow me down. After I graduated from middle school, I started to dream about my future and how wonderful it could be once I put my mind to it. I dreamed of being a “big shot” that everybody respected and whom everyone could look up to as a role model. However, I knew that in order to be that kind of person I had to go to college and get a higher education. I have thought about this ever since. The universities that I want to attend are the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and Southern Methodist University (SMU), because I believe that those universities can give me the right elements I need to succeed in life. I have been accepted to UTA and I plan to major in either Music, Business or in Theater Arts, because those are areas that I enjoy, I’m really good at them, and also love to do them. Before I ever started to think about these careers I wanted to be a journalist, but that no longer seems like my path. I was inspired by some of my teachers at J.F. Kimball High School, because they truly believe that there is much potential in me and that I can really be who I want to become in life. That truly gave me the necessary push I needed. You see, they actually believed that I could be so much more than just a student. They believed that my potential would one day lead me to make a difference in the world. I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t for the teachers at Kimball. They changed my life. I used to think that Kimball was a school filled with students that didn’t want to succeed, but I was wrong. Kimball is filled with students and teachers that want to do much more than be just another person at Kimball. They want an opportunity to rise up from where they all stand. I have encountered students that dream to see a better tomorrow and know that they could actually make that come true for everyone. At Kimball, I was considered a college-ready student thanks to a program called AVID. Because of that program I got to know what I was really interested in. I never would have thought that I would be such a high-achieving student, but I am, and that is really something! A program that has also helped me a great deal is Ernst & Young’s College MAP, because they have given me such great advice and guidance. In the past two years with College MAP, we have gone to visit some colleges and explored possibilities that have helped my dream become a reality. At first my family thought that I wasn’t going to get this far and that I wouldn’t be such an outstanding student, but I have proven them wrong and now I have their full support. However, their support is emotional and not financial. Despite all of this, I won’t give up, no matter what. I have learned that there is always a way to reach whatever goal. I know that if I work harder and harder to achieve my goal, one day I will get there. And until then, I will continue to try my best and my hardest. I’ve been through so many hardships that I finally understand why I was given the opportunity to come to the US and that is, to become someone that one day will give a better life to those who were born just like me. If it wasn’t for my grandparents, I probably wouldn’t know what life was about and what I would be missing out on. I will forever be thankful to them. At the same time, if it wasn’t for the people that I had the opportunity to meet along the way at Kimball, Ernst & Young, and UTA, I would not be this wise and honest person that I have become; and so I will always cherish these relationships. At times, I feel that I have been a very lucky person to have such amazing friends and I will never take them for granted. Now I’m about to graduate from Kimball High School as an Honor Society student and with a great reputation. But if I had to go back in time and change something about my life, I would change nothing at all, because without experiencing the things that I had to experience, I wouldn’t be the same person who is writing this essay today. I would go through all the pain and struggles all over again, because now I know that it would be worth it at the end of this long road that I have had to walk through; and step by step I will come closer toward my goals and whatever my heart desires.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Another Cinderella story
Queen N.
Martin Luther King Early College High School Denver, Colorodo Queen plans to attend University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“With hard work, motivation and perseverance, I have achieved so many unthinkable goals.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

The glass slipper finally fits! Just like a Cinderella story, I have experienced and endured the craziest obstacles in my life. I am the African-American version of a Cinderella who has come from rags, dirt and pests, to the best of the best. Life has a way
of taking a person on a horse ride. Sometimes sacrifice and pain is all a part of growing as a stronger person. It can be considered as fear to some people, but more of strength in general. Once there was as girl born and raised in a little village in the country of Nigeria. She was the oldest of seven children in her family. At the age of three, she witnessed the unfortunate death of her mother who left behind a newborn baby and the rest of the family up to this brave three-year-old to take care of. From that point forward, sacrifice and passion was her logo. Perseverance flowed from the tip of her hair, through her spine, and down to the tip of her toes. With so much compassion in her heart, she was willing to do anything for her beloved family. Forced to grow up so quickly, and left alone with a stepmother who had no care whatsoever for the well-being of the kids that did not belong to her. The stepmother made pain and suffering an everyday feeling for this little girl. Calling her degrading names, bashing on her dreams, and giving words of discouragement was the stepmother’s daily job. No matter how much the situation hurt, the little girl was driven with passion and held her head up high, moved forward and played a continuous role of a mother to all of her siblings. With a father on the other side of the world, life was unbearable to this girl and her family. Just like Cinderella’s stepmother deprived Cinderella from going to the ball, this girl’s stepmother made it impossible for success to come to her, blocking any possible means for the family to join their father in the United States of America. After all the stepmother’s failed attempts, they finally arrived in America on the Christmas of 2006. Being a 13-year-old girl and leaving everything that she was used to, life was never the same for this little girl. She had left everything that she had known, including her culture and friends and was forced to adapt to a whole new life in a hard way. At first, fitting in was a part-time job for this girl. She always walked into her classrooms with a shirt that was torn in several places, pants that were too big and resembled that made for a boy, her shoes were torn, and worst of all she had a haircut that was meant for a male. She was ridiculed and teased for everything that she attempted to do and every word that she attempted to pronounce. This situation broke this girl down to rock bottom where all that she could do was rise. She dedicated long hours to her studies and she lived and breathed her education. In a matter of three months, she was fluent in speaking English. She learned the appropriate clothing to wear and quickly rose to the top 10 in her class, and nothing could stop her or bring her down. She promised herself that no matter what situation that it was, she would never let anything stand in the way of her success. She exuded strength through every fiber of her being. She emerged out of that situation to be a stronger person and finally showed the world that the glass slipper fits. Of all the obstacles that popped up from left to right, the girl’s family was one of the biggest. Even though she loved her family so much and was willing to do anything for them, they were the biggest roadblock on her way to success. She was forced to give up everything that she had worked hard for, her childhood and teenage life for her family. She had a disabled brother whom she loved so much, but lost so much in the process of putting his needs above hers and taking good care of him. She was pushed to the breaking point with trouble emerging from every part of her life and to tears everyday that her family could not afford clothes and food for a day. Then again, she made a vow to herself not to allow her future to end up like her father’s. She wanted so much more happiness for her family, and she was determined to face and circumstance to achieve greatness for herself and her family. That little girl is strong, determined, kind-hearted, compassionate and she perseveres until the end. That little girl is me. Just like a Cinderella story, the glass slipper finally fits on whom it belongs. With hard work, motivation and perseverance, I have achieved so many unthinkable goals and jumped over so many hurdles, and I am still living and wearing the glass slipper of success and uniqueness. The world has finally found whom the glass slipper fits because no matter how rough and confusing the road can get, no matter how long pressure supersedes, and no matter how many people do not want to see me succeed, I stay true to myself and I always come out of a situation with the glass slipper of success. I am unique. I am the Nigerian Cinderella, and the glass slipper finally fits.
College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence 13

The secret ingredient
Dennis Luis P.
Adlai Stevenson High School New York, New York Dennis will attend Paul Smith’s College where he will study Culinary Arts.

“My mother is the reason that I want to live life to the fullest and pursue a college education.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

The most inspiring ingredient I can ever have for any dish is my mother. She’s the one who gave birth to me, the one who improved her life to give my older brother and myself a better childhood. Miriam Navarro gave us everything when we had nothing. My early childhood days were filled
with arguing and never knowing a home. When I lived with my father, I was consumed with anger. There was constant fighting, screaming and things said that no five-year-old should hear. I felt like all there was in life was hatred. Thanks to my mother obtaining custody of my brother and me, I found my passion in cooking. My zeal and enthusiasm for cooking was created by my mother, my inspiration. Whenever my mother would cook, there was always a melody of wonderful aromas — I could taste the food as soon as I walked into my house. I knew I could relax and get ready for a great day or night. I fell in love with cooking because of the safe way I felt when my mother would cook. When I saw her cooking or helped her cook, I felt like I was in another world — a world where there were no problems, no anger — where there was nothing wrong. To me, this world was so different from the screaming and fighting I experienced at my father’s house. I feel the same way when I cook today, like there’s no hatred; just love, happiness and joy. My mother is the reason that I want to live life to the fullest and pursue a college education. She is the only person in my life that has never given up on me or stopped protecting me. These are the reasons why my mother is my inspiration; she saved me from a lifetime of suffering, hatred and anger. If not for my mother, I would have spent my time fighting and drinking instead of applying for college, which I am happily spending my time doing. My mother gave me a strong appreciation for my culture and background, which influences my cooking style. I grew up eating Hispanic food and hope to fuse it with future styles of cooking. My career goals are to become a master chef and own my own restaurant. I know I have to walk before I can run. The steps started in my childhood and will continue to the first day of my college career. Upon graduation, I hope to travel the world by sea. I’d like to visit the different regions of the world so I can embody other cultures and styles of cooking, and bring them home to my restaurant. I would like to study wine in Italy, seafood in Asia, and return to my roots in Puerto Rico. While in college, I’d like to become involved in the study abroad program to get a head start on my upcoming journey. Obtaining a Bachelor of Professional Studies will enable me to accomplish my life aspirations, which were sparked by my mother. It will help me to not only hone my culinary skills, but to learn the crucial business side of owning and running a company. With my inspiration supporting me, and the knowledge that I will gain through a college education and life experiences while traveling the globe, I will achieve my career goals and reach my full potential.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


What I’ve learned from my sister
Donna R.
Gunn High School Palo Alto/San Jose, California Donna will major in Psychology at University of San Francisco.

“The day that I went to the DMV to get my license became the best and worst day of my life.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

As I walk upstairs to the condominium with 57 etched on the door, I can already hear the yelling of Angelica, my 27-year-old sister. I walk in and stumble on the boxes that consume our floor and make my way to the far room on the left, that’s for me and my older brother Bobby. I walk past
my mom, Jovita, and cousin Ana’s room with the loud music blasting from Wild 94.9, put down my books and head into the kitchen passing my other cousin Sara’s “room” on the couch with her clothes sprawled and tucked in between the cushions. I snatch the first thing that I see that looks remotely edible and stuff it in my pockets for a clean getaway, when my mother and sister stop me to ask if I brought everyone home from school. I quickly nod my head and rush to my room in relief. Usually, I would be bombarded with questions about my plans for the week so that my mom can find a way to slyly tweak my schedule so that I can make time to take my cousins or sister to their appointments. The day that I went to the DMV to get my license became the best and worst day of my life. As soon as I grabbed my temporary license, I dropped my mother off at home and drove to my best friend’s house to show off. It was not much of a show because I had to drive a beaten silver Honda that sounded like it had a few miles until it reached its deathbed, but it sufficed. When I came home, my mom handed me a folded paper listing the time and dates of my sister’s doctor appointments. Four years ago, my sister was diagnosed with Syringomyelia (spinal chord injury) after an appointment with a chiropractor. Late that night, she kept waking up in pain and called my mom over for help. She said her muscles felt tight and she began twitching uncontrollably. For weeks, after struggling to make an appointment with a doctor, we got one to see her. After running many tests they found a fluid cyst in her spinal chord that caused damage to the rest of her body. For months she would have daily appointments that my mother had to take her to, but when I finally got my car it was my job to take her. Every day after school, I would scurry to the car with my family and drop them off at home, pick up Angelica and my school books, and do my homework while waiting for her at the hospital. At the hospital, I met many interesting people who had all sorts of injuries and diseases. Although I was upset for having to spend my afternoons in a smelly place with no comfortable desk to work on or food in a fridge that I could empty, I was grateful to have met such wonderful people. They taught me how to be thankful for what I had, because I wasn’t the one having to go to the doctor every day. Some were in wheelchairs, and that was their mode of transportation to get there. They didn’t have sisters, brothers, or any family left to help them. All my sister had was me, so I did what I could to help her. Over time, her muscles began to weaken and she would temporarily lose ability in her ligaments. She began asking me to do the most simple tasks like reaching the peanut butter or getting a shirt that she dropped, and I would always be so upset because I was in the middle of talking to a friend on the phone or just making up good lyrics for a song. I was so stubborn and did everything for myself until then, and then I began to volunteer with all sorts of people. I helped the drug addicts, the depressed and those on the verge of suicide at my church; I talk to them almost every day, and although people do not know how much they go through, I could relate to them being their age. They had a trust in me that they could never give to others. My sister’s constant battle started to weaken her mind and she was urged to see a psychologist after being diagnosed with depression. She then showed signs of manic depression with sudden bursts of energy to then depressive states where all she did was want to stay in bed. Dealing with my sister and the other teenage girls from the program at my church, I became intrigued with psychological disorders, which have shaped my path toward becoming a psychologist. I hope to continue learning throughout college about disturbances in the brain to continue helping people become aware of their conditions. Many people go untreated every year, and my sister almost became one of them because we financially could not afford sessions. I hope in the future to work with a program for teenage children to help them diagnose their problems and formulate plans for each one to help them live their everyday lives to the normality of others.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Hannah G.
Frankford High School Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Hannah will attend Pennsylvania State University, Abington where she will study Psychology and take Pre-med classes.

“I look forward each day to learning new things and continuing my quest for knowledge.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

Motivation is something that has always been a part of my life and ultimately brought me to the US to attend high school and hopefully post-secondary education. Through my experience growing up in Liberia and
supporting my family, I have always tried to help those in need. This desire has driven me to consider a career as a pediatric doctor. I was born in Liberia, West Africa, where I lived until 2004. My life there was much different than my life today. I lived with my grandparents in a small house. There were seven children and three adults, only one of them was working. Farming was our only source of income and survival, but it was extremely hard work. We grew and harvested rice, corn and cassava. I was only nine years old when I starting working on the farm. The children were told to weed the grass, water the crops and also chase away the birds that were trying to eat the plants. In order to generate income, my grandmother would gather our crops and go to the city and sell them. She would use the money from the crops to buy food and supplies. If there was money left over she would also buy clothes for us. My grandmother and I were very close; she taught me how to be a respectful and responsible young lady. In Liberia, only the wealthy people can afford to obtain an education. Getting an education was very hard for those of us that could not afford to pay for our school fees. While other children my age were going to school in the morning, my sister, cousins, and I were getting ready to go to work on the farm. In 2004, with Liberia engulfed in a civil war, my father, who had come to the US in 1999, was able to send for my sister and I to come to Philadelphia and live with him. While I knew that opportunity would allow me to get an education and live a better life, it also meant that I would be leaving behind my beloved grandmother. Many nights I lay awake thinking that if I work hard to make something of myself, I will someday be able to extend a helping hand to make a difference for my family and the people in my homeland. America has given me all the opportunities that were never available to me in Liberia. Here I feel like I can express myself, chase my dreams and live like every other young person my age. Since coming to America, I have been able to attend school and participate in activities such as track, library student assistant and book club. I also enjoy assisting my family with cooking and cleaning. My career interest lies in the medical field, and I hope one day to become a pediatrician or an educator. Since childhood, I have cared for babies and young children, always looking out for their safety and well-being. Living through the war in my homeland has motivated me to do well in school. During my time in Liberia, I witnessed babies dying from sickness because their parent did not have money to get treatment for them. Many children died of starvation. By the time I turned sixteen, I knew that I wanted to be a pediatrician or an early childhood educator. I look forward each day to learning new things and continuing my quest for knowledge. I believe that being given the opportunity to attend such a great university will give me that chance to live out my dream and become the person that I was always meant to be.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


What bothers me?
Jia Ahsan M.
North Side Urban Pathways Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Jia will attend North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University where he will study Business.

“Skin color should not bother people, and a Honda versus a Bentley shouldn’t determine social status.”


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

What bothers me: racism. Racism is defined as a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others. Racism has been around since the
onset of American history. The problem with America is that we can discern flaws much easier than we can notice semi-perfection. Our current African-American President Barack Obama faces racism every day. I saw his election as an election to go down in history with no negative connotation. Only one person in the world can say that he is the first black president! Yet, those who still hold racism in their hearts were disenchanted, wanting to continue the trend of white presidents. History is documented because there were people who went against the odds, against the bigotry, against the injustices and made their mark in history. Racism has shaped history for good and for bad. Racism has birthed such great activists as Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Prudence Crandall, Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King to name a few. These people all changed history for the better. However, Hitler and Stalin are examples of racism that was turned viciously violent, killing thousands because of appearance and religion. Freedom of speech and religion are basic human rights. Racism used to be blatant but now it is subliminal. Subliminal racism is still racism nonetheless. Racism goes beyond skin color, it exists in all shapes, forms and sizes from weight to hair to status. Discrimination may never end; we will never live in a world of rainbows, flowers and picket fences. However, because it won’t end doesn’t mean that one should dwell on it, but one should grow from it, sprout a new leaf in this jungle we call America and not accept the odds but make amends with them. What else bothers me: social hierarchy. Slaves fought for their education; they wanted what they couldn’t have. They knew that those who were educated would prosper. Now let’s step into the present; 16% of the US population drops out of school, and most of these people are African-American. As a proud African-American myself, this saddens me. I take pride in my education to the fullest extent. People are dropping out of school in high school! School hasn’t even begun to get hard in high school. High school is meant to prepare you for the “big guns”: college. Why African-Americans are dropping out: social hierarchy. Hundreds of years ago one just wanted the right to an education, money equaled power but knowledge was of a much higher value. Now, however, all we hear about is money, the “bling bling,” big cars, fancy girls, big houses, etc. Money has began to determine social status and intellectual ability has faded into the abyss. For example, presidents get paid roughly $250,000 annually; however, a football player or a rapper can get $250,000,000 annually. So, let me get this straight, the person running the entire United States of America gets paid less than someone who fights for a ball to get it to the other end or a person that writes music, whether it has denotation or not — that is completely farcical. Moreover, now the President is in the middle and all the “stars” of the world reside at the top of the social hierarchy chart. People that are trying to better today’s generation get paid very little, such as social workers or teachers. But are their jobs not more noteworthy than a football player or a rapper? I know for some this might be a terrible thing to say, but we could go without the NFL. But could we go without teachers to educate us? Yet, instead of taking advantage of these luxuries, people are going out and selling drugs or robbing people to try to work their way up America’s “respectable” social hierarchy. It bothers me because it makes me wonder, does America have as many morals as it claims? What bothers us in life should have some significance. Skin color should not bother people and a Honda vs. a Bentley shouldn’t determine social status. A doctorate should earn someone $250,000,000 a year! For right now this is the way things are, but let’s not be shallow, let’s dive deep into the intellectual aspect of life, for it should bother you to lack those abilities.

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Eugene: I’m very proud that Ernst & Young is involved in Restoration Academy. I wish we’d had something like College MAP for my class. Though I had a great GPA and ACT scores, I was still intimidated about making it into the University of Alabama, when most of the people around me were applying to community college. Nick: I got involved with College MAP because when I was in high school, mentors were important to me. And I wouldn’t have been in Accounting without somebody sitting me down and telling me what I could do with it.


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

The power of mentors
Eugene is a junior Accounting major at the University of Alabama and a Restoration alumni. He has served on a College MAP panel, attended Ernst & Young’s Discover Tax Program for minority student leaders, and will soon be a Horizon Intern at the Birmingham Office. Nick is a senior manager in Tax at the Birmingham Office of Ernst & Young. He has spearheaded the College MAP program at Restoration Academy in Fairfield, Alabama, which provides a highquality education to predominantly lower-income students. We asked them to share with us their thoughts on the power of mentoring:
Eugene: At Restoration Academy, my math teacher, Connie Edwards, was my mentor. She was so strict in the way she graded. When I was in the 8th grade, she had us doing 10th grade math. I got a bad grade once, and I got so frustrated in class that I started to cry. She took me aside and told me that it wouldn’t be the last bad grade I’d receive and that I would make it anyway. I ended up at the top of my class. Ms. Edwards got me interested in Accounting as a profession. I was excited to research it, and I later learned that there are not so many minorities who choose Accounting. She really believed in me, so she reached out to the University of Alabama and helped to get two of my classmates and me scholarships to Alabama’s Accounting program. Nick: Our College MAP program started at Restoration after Eugene was already at Alabama, but people would always talk about him — he was one of the top students to graduate from the school. We were able to get Eugene onto a College MAP panel to talk to the Scholars currently in their junior year, about his path to college. I have to say, Eugene made the biggest impact. Eugene: I’m very proud that Ernst & Young is involved at Restoration. I wish we’d had something like College MAP for my class. Though I had a great GPA and ACT scores, I was still intimidated about making it into Alabama, when most of the people around me were applying to community colleges. Nick: I got involved with College MAP because when I was in high school, mentors were important to me. And I wouldn’t have been in Accounting without somebody sitting me down in college and telling me what I could do with it. Eugene: When I visited the Birmingham Office, everybody welcomed me with open arms. Then I went to Discover Tax in New York, met new people and made friends all the way from LA to Boston. I’m a first-generation college student. I’m really happy to represent my family, who give me great support, at school. And now I have a new family at Ernst & Young.

To learn more about internships at Ernst & Young, visit:

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Making college a reality: a roadmap for current high school students
Preparing for college — what you can start doing now and continue throughout high school
• Develop good study habits • Set academic (and personal) goals by evaluating your personal strengths, interests and skills • Engage in community service projects, leadership opportunities, clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities • Find a mentor — someone you look up to who is a positive role model • Research colleges using the internet, books, and people who have attended college • Learn about standardized tests that are required for college entrance — like the SAT and ACT • Get to know your guidance counselor • Talk with your friends and family about college • Start saving money now to help pay for college • Take the right courses in high school that colleges require prior to acceptance: • 4 years of English • 4 years of mathematics • 3 years of lab science • 3 years of social studies • 3 years of foreign language • 4 years of high school electives • Honors and Advanced Placement level courses whenever possible

Tips for grades 7 and 8
• Practice good habits — complete assignments on time, be proactive and participate in class • Ask your teachers and family members lots of questions about colleges and careers

Tips for grade 9
• Meet with your guidance counselor to begin talking about and exploring colleges and careers • Tell your teachers you plan to go to college and talk to your family about planning for college • Make sure you have a Social Security number (and memorize it) • Enroll in appropriate college preparatory classes* • Study hard; the grades you earn in ninth grade will be included in your final high school GPA* • Get involved in extracurricular activities, both at and outside of school* • Save money for college* • Attend college fairs, visit college campuses, and take virtual (web-based) college tours* • Read, read, read*


College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence

Tips for grade 10
• Ask your guidance counselor about post-secondary enrollment options and Advanced Placement (AP) courses • In October, take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) for practice; when you fill out your test sheet, check the box that releases your name to colleges so you can start receiving information from them • Discuss your PSAT score with your guidance counselor. What will you need to focus on? Which aspects of the test come naturally for you? • Become familiar with college admissions requirements (e.g., SAT/ACT scores, GPA) • Consider taking SAT II Subject Tests in the courses you took while the material is fresh in your mind

Tips for grade 11
• Meet with your guidance counselor to review your transcript and talk about college options • If you didn’t do so in 10th grade, sign up for and take the PSAT in the fall • Make a list of colleges that meet your most important criteria (e.g., size, location, areas of study, living options, tuition cost) • Request information and applications from colleges of interest by mail or the Internet • Prepare for the SAT or ACT • Have a discussion with your parents about the colleges in which you are interested • Stay involved in extracurricular activities • Consider whom you will ask to write your recommendations • Apply for on-campus summer college programs for high school students • Practice completing college applications • Compose a rough draft of your college essay, and ask teachers and other trusted sources to review it • Learn about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) • Develop a financial aid application plan, including a list of the sources of aid, requirements for each application, and a timetable for meeting the filing deadlines • Select courses that will position you in the best light possible as you are applying to colleges in the fall of senior year

Tips for grade 12
• Enroll in AP courses and take on extra assignments • Re-take the SAT/ACT • Continue to maximize new opportunities • Finalize your college list • Visit college campuses • Complete college applications (pay attention to deadlines!) • Request your letters of recommendation • Write your college entrance essay(s) • Apply for scholarships • Meet with your guidance counselor to review the application checklist • File your FAFSA and other necessary financial aid documents • Weigh your college options once financial aid awards and college acceptance letters are received • Accept the college offer!

Developed in collaboration with College For Every Student. To learn more visit,

* Indicates tips to follow for all four years of high school

College MAP: Mentoring for Access and Persistence


Ernst & Young Assurance | Tax | Transactions | Advisory

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© 2011 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved. SCORE No. CV0070
This publication contains information in summary form and is therefore intended for general guidance only. It is not intended to be a substitute for detailed research or the exercise of professional judgment. Neither EYGM Limited nor any other member of the global Ernst & Young organization can accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication. On any specific matter, reference should be made to the appropriate advisor.optioner congue nihil imperdiet doming id quoim.

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