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Opening Doors to Opportunities in Boston

posted on Tue, Nov 14 2017 8:06 am by Amy B. and Amina H.

Above: Project SUCCESS students at the Harvard Center for Global Education.

For three years, Project SUCCESS has brought students to Boston University and Harvard in the fall. The trip is designed primarily for English Learners and new Americans. Many are on track to become first generation college students. 

The goals of the trip are consistent with all other Project SUCCESS local and regional college tours: Empower students to think about their futures and create actionable plans to achieve their dreams. College visits are an opportunity for students to explore their goals, reflect on their own values, and feel better prepared to take on the college admissions process. This, combined with the powerful benefits of educational travel to foster independence, build confidence, and expand student perspective, has made our Boston University and Harvard experience an opportunity unlike any other for our students.

We were honored to have one participant, Amina (12th grade, Southwest High School), share her reflections on her Boston experience:

Traveling to Boston and touring these universities, I learned that I am more than capable of attending and academically succeeding in college.

It is more than possible for students like me, from multiple marginalized groups, to attend an elite institution for higher education. I believe there is a stigma associated with students from underrepresented groups when it comes to college. This trip made it seem realistic to me that I can break those stigmas.

Adults on the trip commented on how mature and intellectually curious I am, which made me reflect on my adversities and how, despite the fact that I have to work twice as hard as my white counterparts to reach my goals, that is exactly what makes me so authentic and amazing.

I had the amazing opportunity to talk with multiple Harvard students, both undergrads and graduate students. At Harvard, we also had the opportunity to hear from Harvard professor, Dr. Fernando Reimers, and some of his graduate students in global education [Read Harvard’s blog about this experience here]. They were all so kind and intellectually curious, and more than willing to answer our questions.

My favorite memory of the trip was seeing three South Africans at Harvard University. I am a Somali refugee from Cape Town, South Africa and since my departure of my birth place, I have not seen many other South Africans, nor been able to talk to many individuals regarding the issues in South Africa. I was able to do both whilst I was in Boston and it was such a humbling experience.

It is so crucial for students that are ESL and are from various underrepresented groups to also get a chance to see elite institutions such as Harvard and BU. Students may not be able to afford to visit colleges, or we may not have parents or adults around us that know how to navigate the college application process. Project SUCCESS helps us with both. I believe this program has helped many students to make the dream of attending college a reality. That’s just one more reason programs like Project SUCCESS are crucial for students from underrepresented communities.

OTHER STUDENTS’ REFLECTIONS ON BOSTON

  • “This was the best experience of my life, ever. Boston University and Harvard have motivated me to pursue my dream college and career objectives. I understood during this trip that nothing is impossible. I learned if you are rejected -- don’t feel afraid. Rejection is a part of life. My next steps are to apply to as many colleges as I can, and make my dream a reality.” -- Alex, Wellstone, Grade 12

  • “One important thing I saw on this trip was the [college] students’ backgrounds and how they made the most out of what they had.” -- Juan, FAIR School, Grade 11

  • "The Boston Trip helped me figure out what I am looking for in a college. Getting the opportunity to talk with low income students who are attending the institution really helped me picture myself there as a student." -- Yasmin, Southwest, Grade 11

  • “The most important thing I saw on this trip were the Somali Americans that attend Harvard. This trip gave me more confidence to succeed in college.” -- Zuhaib, Heritage Academy, Grade 11

  • “I learned that both of the universities don’t look for grades only. They want a student who really wants to work hard, and make a difference in his or her own community.” -- Ashwaq, VOA, Grade 12

  • “I won’t give up no matter what. I will embrace the “no’s” in life and see it as a learning experience and motivation.” --Jonathan, Washburn, Grade 11

  • “One of the biggest barriers I had was paying for college. I knew of scholarships but I also knew how competitive they were. Understanding that colleges will try to pay for you to enter made me want to apply for colleges I never considered because of how much they cost.” -- Lisette, South, Grade 12

  • “This trip has affected how I will approach college. ‘Don’t be scared to be the only one that looks like you, you are doing it for yourself -- not for them.’” --Anonymous South High student

  • “This trip, the Harvard professor mainly, has shown me that although we go through a lot, it shouldn't be a reason to stop you. And I can't say it's something easy but let it motivate you. Let it encourage you. Going through a lot and still reaching your destination is probably the best feeling ever. But there are really problems that people face every day while trying to follow a dream. If you can't use it to motivate you and do better, you only fall into all the assumptions and people looking down on you.” -- Abdirahman, Heritage, Grade 12