Life of a Fellow: Jenn

New Beginnings

In my last blog post, I wrote about how my work in the PLUS Center has kept me humble. Those feelings have not gone away, and sometimes it feels like I am not accomplishing any of the things I set out to do at the end of the day. Every once in a while, though, there’s a breakthrough.

Sam* was wary of us when we started in September. He had a great transcript, but every time we saw him, he was roaming the halls with a pack of seniors, intimidating the younger students with his self-confidence. Over the course of the fall semester, we learned that he loved art, and he was good at it. That he was reflective about his high school experience before Penn Treaty. That he had goals for the future and needed help getting there.

Together, we worked with Sam on his file, getting him ready to apply to colleges. We found the right places and sent off applications, and got ready to wait…and wait…and wait. Other seniors started getting their letters, and Sam was still on hold. We made phone calls, badgered admissions departments, and sent in supplemental materials. Finally, last week, Sam got into La Salle! The smile on his face made it all worth it. Telling him how proud I was, in the hallway in front of his friends, was the highlight of my day. He has worked so hard to convince people to take this chance on him, and it paid off.

Now, he’s gotten into another school, and when he found out that he had options, he was exuberant. “I didn’t think I was going to have options, Miss!”

We talk a lot about college-going culture in 12+, and there is no student who is a better example of what that means. As soon as Sam got into college, we had other students coming in to talk to us. The year may feel like it’s almost over (and to those of you in college, it definitely is!), but for us, there are still new beginnings. Sam's younger friends come in and ask us about college, because they didn’t think that anyone from their school could ever go. They hang out with us at lunch, and ask us questions about scholarships and financial aid. They point to the many pennants we have around the Center, and ask us where different schools are. “I don’t know! Let’s find out together,” is a common answer, and then we embark on an internet journey down the college rabbit hole. They tell us that they have pennants in their rooms now, because they want their spaces at home to look like their spaces at school. We meet new kids every week, and form new bonds.

Sam hasn’t committed to a college yet, but when he does, you can bet that we will post the Decision Day pictures all over the school, the 12+ blog, social media. Get ready, because the sunshine and joy might break your screens, but trust me: it’ll be worth it.

*Name has been changed

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