They were part of a contingent of more than 130 students selected through a competitive process. Davana is a graduate of Monte Vista High School in the Grossmont Union High School District (San Diego County), and Jackie is a graduate from Falls Church High School in Fairfax County, VA. In the fall, Davana will attend the University of California, San Diego, and Jackie will enroll at the College of William and Mary, in Virginia. Following the event, we asked them to reflect on the experience. What follows is a compilation of their reflections. Be on the lookout for more blogs from Jackie and Davana in the future that will share more of their personal stories and a look into their college lives!
Jackie: Trying to process the emotions felt on July 23rd is extremely difficult. I keep asking myself the question “Why me” or “What did I do to get this opportunity?” From meeting the First Lady Michelle Obama, to watching Wale perform two feet in front of me, that day was filled with lessons and experiences I had never even dreamed of.
I didn’t know that my dream for college would one day let me be in the White House, or that my dream for college would give me the chance to meet all the amazing people I met in less than 14 hours. Networking with those people was important because we all have a similar desire for more. We all have the ambition to make more of our lives because of the struggles we have been through. I got to hear the story of a young lady who had to take the responsibility of caring for her brother, while she herself was still a child. I got to hear the story (and success) of a rising sophomore who was one of the ten students that inspired this program. I got to feel the strength within her when she tried to brush off being a foster child the same way you would brush off a scrape or bruise.
I had to reevaluate everything I was doing, what exactly I was doing, and why I was doing it. So many times you forget how important it is not only to hear what someone is saying but to also listen and understand the deeper meaning in their words. To learn how to trust their experiences and be able to apply what they have learned to your life.
Mr. Jaime Casap, Chief Education Evangelist, from Google had a story that I really related to. So many people try to shoot down your dreams and go against you that sometimes it is difficult to continue on. I have a lot of self-doubt, and I think all human beings do at their core, but as Mr. Casap said, “The important thing is to keep going and not to let the self-doubt gain control of your life.” I have family members who believe in a good education but still tell me, “You need to get better at housekeeping and cooking because you won’t find a husband otherwise.” Listening to all the guest speakers and seeing in their eyes how much they believe in education and the importance of it, made me have even more confidence in MY belief of education.
I met great people who want to go into the medical field and others who want to focus on preserving our environment. I also learned something very valuable and important from Michelle Obama. Today, many of our youth, who are the future of America, couldn’t care less about politics, but a huge eye opener came to me from the seminar. Education, like everything else, is in fact involved with politics. Depending on “who is in charge,” education—and the funds that are helping me today—could change. I am scared, but I am aware of my responsibility as a citizen and as a student now. Because of Reach Higher, I am no longer off the hook, and I am proud. I am finally proud of myself because it was only on that day that I realized how much I have accomplished and how much I have been through to get to where I am today.
I want to thank everyone who has truly supported me. Thanks to the people who gave me the chance to prove myself and believed in me. I want to thank the AVID program and all those who work hard to help students like myself. I want to thank Mr. Kelly Ginley personally. Without him, I would have quit my dream of going to college when things got rough this year. Thank you to Mr. Rob Gira and Mrs. Barbara Soto from AVID Center for the opportunity to be nominated. The experience itself now seems so surreal but it gave me the courage I needed to go to college with more confidence than before.
Davana: I am so thankful for the opportunity to represent AVID at the “Beating the Odds” Summit. This experience was truly amazing and will be one that I will remember for years to come!
Attending the event and not only meeting the First Lady and the President, but also interacting with so many students who have come from backgrounds similar to mine, humbled me greatly. I felt like I could relate to these students on multiple levels, and we clicked right off the bat. To know that there are people who have the same ideas and resolve for the future as I do is so empowering to me. Not only do these students dream big, but they push forward, learning from the obstacles in their path and rising above them.
The highlight of my whole experience was connecting with people from all over the United States. Sometimes it's easy to only focus on what is going on immediately around you and forget to look at the bigger picture—the future. We are the kids who will continue to lead and empower others as adults, for years to come. It was eye opening.
When the First Lady said that what we have is amazing, but it can easily be taken away, that resonated deeply with me. What she was talking about was all of the support—both financially and through programs like AVID—that we have grown accustomed to. If we do not take action and mandate that we keep these vital supports, they can easily be cut from the budget.
I'm still in shock that I attended the Summit! This whole experience was amazing and I am so grateful.
For more on AVID, visit http://avid.org/what-is-avid.ashx.