Meet Selena, Fellow at KHSA! Originally from California, Selena is a recent University of Pennsylvania graduate, with a major in Communications and a minor in Consumer Psychology.  While at Penn, she grew to love Philly and decided to stay to be a part of the movement to improve its education system and the lives of its youth. Outside of the PLUS Center, Selena is part of a ballroom dance team!

A few weeks ago, my coworkers and I stood in front of a sea of 90 seniors at our Senior Kick-Off event at Kensington Health Sciences Academy.  As I stood in front of this group of students, all buzzing and giggling with excitement during their Advisory period, my mind raced with questions: “How are we possibly going to reach all of these students?  Will they want to come work with us in the PLUS Center?”  I left the Senior Kick-Off event feeling slightly overwhelmed—hoping that we had clearly communicated our message and that our students would soon find their way into the PLUS Center.

Fortunately, my worries surrounding the Senior Kick-Off meeting soon dissipated.  Within days, students began wandering into the PLUS Center more and more regularly, in larger and larger groups.  During our lunch periods, the PLUS Center turned into a bustling space, filled with students seeking advice about Senior Projects, college applications, and personal statements.  Some of our most regular students even come to us in the morning expecting their PLUS Center passes to already be written for them!

Some of my favorite moments this year have taken place during these lively periods inside the PLUS Center.  The moments that stand out the most are those when we can see that our excitement about education is contagious to our students: the moments when a student gets excited about discovering a new college that would be a good fit for them, a new major that aligns with their passions, or a Senior Project topic that inspires them.  

One of the main reasons I was initially drawn to 12+ was our organization’s emphasis on building relationships with students.  After only a short time at Kensington Health Sciences Academy, I’ve realized just how important relationship-building is to the work that we do.  With each meeting that I have with students, I learn more about their interests and passions.  Whether it is when I’m working with a student to fill out a college application, or simply playing a game of checkers together, each interaction with a student gives me another glimpse into their personality and quirks.  As the school year goes on, I’m excited to continue to build this understanding of our students’ unique traits and goals.  I believe that these relationships create a sense of expectations between us and our students: our expectation that they will visit the PLUS Center to work with us towards their academic goals, and their expectation that we will be there to support them every step of the way.

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