2013 Bronx ASAP Leadership Team Member
I’m not what you would call a traditional student. I dropped out of high school because of a growing scene of violence. But I did not give up on my education and obtained my GED in 2005. For the next six years I worked odd and dead-end jobs with no future in sight. I decided a return to college was necessary for my life to move forward and have meaning.
The thought of going back to school was scary. I had not been in a school setting in six years, and technically hadn’t completed even a single year of high school. My fears were all too quickly brought to fruition when I took the CUNY placement exam. I failed the math placement. After a summer course, I failed my retake. As they say, however, the third time is the charm, and this time I passed by one point.
While I was ecstatic to have passed and finally be able to start my college career fresh, at the same time a sense of fear and dread loomed over me about going back to college. Like I said, I am not a traditional student. I was 23 at the time and hadn’t truly been in an academic setting in over six years. I thought I was too old, that I was not smart enough. I would be surrounded by spring chickens fresh out of high school who knew everything, and I would be the foolish old dinosaur in the classroom. It was around this time that I was accepted into ASAP.
I was told I would be put into a cohort with incoming freshmen and we would be taking classes together our first semester. This cohort scheduling was supposed to build a foundation of support during my ASAP experience by connecting me with my peers. If that wasn’t enough, I had to attend an orientation for three days with them before school started. “Great, time for them to meet the dinosaur,” I remember thinking to myself. How could they give me any level of support, let alone be my peers? Much to my surprise when I showed up that gloomy rainy morning, I did not see a bunch of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed children. There were faces of all kinds. There were faces of all ages. In fact one of the other students called me a spring chicken, go figure.
Jumping forward in time to now, I realize that ASAP is an every-kind-of-student program. The environment they provided us through our weekly seminars, adviser meetings, and cohort placement fostered a safe, accepting place for us to have both academic and social success. I am an ASAP leadership team member with two other students from my cohort. Both are younger than me and both have a path to college just as unique and eventful as mine. I received advice from older students in the cohort who shared their experiences with me and kept fresh and up-to-date by the younger students who were just starting to explore the world. I have made many friends in ASAP, and on more than one occasion it has been this family-like support that has kept me going and given me the motivation and confidence to make it to my graduation.