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         I am writing today because I am proud of a specific student that I have been working with for the last five months. I was connected to the student and her family because they were referred to the Academic Advocate program by her school counselor at Hilltop Middle. When the student was referred to this program, she was struggling academically. The student was withdrawn and showed little interest in school activities.

     As we began working together, I found that she was very much disengaged from school. My goal was to re-engage her in her education. We created a plan that would have her focus on her strengths and aspirations. We often discussed how important pursuing a higher education can be. As we focused on her academic goals, I suggested that she take part in one of our partner programs, ARTS. I was hoping, by attending these art sessions, she would create new relationships while discovering a passion for school and education.

     Since working together, she has improved her grades, improved her attitude about school and has taken a leadership role in the ARTS class. She voluntarily stays after school for tutoring sessions and continues to build upon her improving grades. When the ARTS class needed a representative to present their concept of a mural to the school principal, she volunteered. After preparation, numerous revisions and a bit of nerves, she delivered a presentation that secured approval for the mural that is allowing the ARTS class to leave a lasting legacy. Other staff has pointed out that this successful presentation is just one example of how this student is becoming more engaged and growing more confident.

 

 

 

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Over these past few months, I have had the privilege of working with great and fascinating students. I have been grateful to have been given an opportunity to influence and direct today’s youth in a college/career pathway. With that being said, one of the students that I chose to highlight in this short story is an eighth grader that lives in the catchment area.

Currently, this student lives at home with their mother. Although it is just the two of them who live at home, mother and student both demonstrate a strong and compassionate relationship between one another. I have had the opportunity and privilege to be invited into their home, where they have felt comfortable to invite me into. Both were very welcoming to me as well as the Academic Advocate program.   

I chose to highlight this student because right off the bat, this individual has taken the initiative in getting himself equipped with the proper tools to get him started and prepared for a college pathway. When I met the student and mother for our intake session, I recall the mother telling me that the student had asked his mother to enroll him into the program. Although this student knows where he would want to be in life, their struggle comes in not knowing how to get there.

This student has been currently involved at Hilltop Middle School in any form possible. Whether it is by being a member of the Associative Student Body (ASB) or taking a seventh period where he practices an additional foreign language, this student does not skip an opportunity to get involved in school. This individual has made sure to always be on top of his assignments at all times. Furthermore, this student did not struggle with settling in during his transitional stage of sixth grade to seventh. Now, as an eighth grader, he has continued to maintain good grades and is currently performing well in school. 

After working with this student for a few months, I have had the privilege of not only inviting but participating in events with them, such as the District Wide College Fair, held at Castle Park High School (CPHS) and MEChA’s High School Conference that took place at San Diego State University (SDSU), that expose our students to a college going culture. I believe that it is through this exposure that the student will gain that confidence and proper navigation on how to get to college. It is always great to see when parents see their students light up in excitement, especially for education.

Our role as advocates goes far beyond referring families to programs that will tend and assist their needs and mentorship. Our role is to connect bridges and support our families with having their student reach their highest potential goals in this life. I will continue to motivate this student, along with the rest of my cohort, in achieving their goals. Although this student is performing well in school, my promise to him and his mother is to continue his focus and determination in school. I will continue to expose them to potential universities that he will one day apply to.

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