By the students, for the students. We want to be relatable, and we want to accurately represent the students of HISD. Anyone can submit – see the sidebar to learn how. Powered by the HISD Student Congress.
Raquel Douglas, Carnegie Vanguard, 2015
This year, I’m graduating high school and going to college 1798 miles away from my home, family and friends. I may or may not be more than mildly terrified.
With the beginning of this new chapter, I am doing a bit of self reflection. I’ve had a very chaotic and sporadic life that began a couple of steps behind everyone else. However, in the eighteen and a half years that I’ve walked this earth, I’ve been able to catch up, and now, I may even be able to get few feet ahead. A lot of this has to do with the plethora of opportunities I’ve been exposed to.
Notably, HISD’s EMERGE program has made a pivotal impact on my life. EMERGE is HISD’s highly successful college prep program that pairs fellows (students in the program) with a program manager who serves as a college mentor and advisor. The program aims to give HISD’s high achieving students the best chance to go to a top-tier college or university. EMERGE helps students with everything about the college application process, including test prep, essay editing, deadline managing, and fly-in applications. For first generation students and underrepresented groups, EMERGE is their ultimate motivator, as program managers show students multiple success stories of students from HISD who have been able to do amazing things regardless of their background, and continuously celebrate their success.
For many, EMERGE serves as a support system, as fellows build strong relationships with their program managers. From talking through the most intimate aspects of their life for a personal statement, to celebrating acceptances and recovering from rejections together, program managers and fellows develop more meaningful relationships than those students typically have with college counselors.
The summer before my senior year, EMERGE took all 99 rising seniors in the program to Yale for a week to experience college immersion and finish our essays and college lists. There, I met my new program manager, Karthik Soora. We talked for 1-2 hours about where I was going to apply to college and my goals for life. He suggested books about behavioral economics (one of my favorite subjects), and I told him he talked funny. After learning my interests and what I wanted to do, he suggested I apply to schools I had never heard of, like Williams or the University of Chicago (both of which I was later accepted into). He gave me meaningful help on my essays and taught me everything I needed to know to be the best possible applicant. These are skills that I’ll remember when I apply to graduate school and that I’m currently using to help juniors who aren’t in EMERGE.
Almost a year later, Karthik and I remain friends, and those 1-2 hours have changed the course of my life. Next year, I’ll be matriculating into my dream school, Williams, with a full ride (65,000+ buckaroos a year). I would not be where I am today, or where I’ll be in a few months, if not for EMERGE.
And I can think of 98 other seniors in HISD who can say the same.