From the very beginning, my mother and father emphasized how important it was to them for me to go to college and get the best education possible. Over the years, I have found this is what most parents want for their children. Unfortunately, for some students, statistics show that this is nearly impossible.
The high school I attended reported to the New York State Education Department in 2014 only a 60 percent graduation rate among students, which is 3 percent lower than the previous year, and 16 percent lower than the statewide average graduation rate. Additionally, this district reported in 2014 to NYSED that more than 60 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged. Never has the phrase “May the odds be ever in your favor” been so real for me.
Despite these daunting statistics, I had known I wanted to go to college since sixth grade. As I mentioned, my parents were huge supporters of my dreams even though they themselves did not go to college.
During my senior year, my high school offered a program where students were able to take numerous field trips to local college campuses. I toured many of the campuses but I did not really feel a connection to any of them. The last field trip of the year was to Niagara University; I regret to admit I was reluctant to even attend because I was not very excited by what I had seen on other campuses. However, from the moment I stepped off the bus, I knew Niagara University was the college for me. The campus was beautiful, and the students and staff were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. This inspired me to finish my high school career strong in order to beat the odds, to graduate high school and attend the college of my dreams.
After high school graduation, I was faced with a new challenge: money. How could I pay for the outstanding education NU guarantees, along with books, tuition, school supplies, etc.? I come from a working class family, so at this point I truly thought my dream might be over even before it began. This is a fear for many students considering private colleges and universities. However, once I received information from Niagara University’s Financial Aid Office, I realized I should not give up just yet! I found out that more than 98 percent of Niagara’s students receive some type of financial assistance - and I was one of them!
Niagara University’s generous funding truly made obtaining my undergraduate degree possible. I would have never been able to attend such a wonderful school without that help. As much as walking the stage in May 2015 was a result of all my hard work, it was also due to the amazing support given to me by my parents and NU. I know I never would have been able to beat the odds had it not been for them.
As I begin my master’s degree program in literacy instruction (5-12), I am reminded again of how fortunate I am as I have been selected to receive the Dean’s Scholarship in the College of Education at Niagara University.