The six individuals in the photo above are or will be the first in their families to graduate from college. Regardless of their stage in the college-going process, they each play a crucial role in Determined to Succeed’s model of college success. Active mentoring and leading by example are hallmarks of the DTS program, and both are implemented by staff and students alike. Seventy-five percent of our programming staff comes from the same background as our students. Having experienced personally the journey of a first generation college student makes our staff uniquely poised to ensure “success” among DTS students. As College Access and Success Counselor explains:
“My mom and dad are from El Salvador, and they only have a third grade education because they had to work to help their families. My parents speak very little English. They were not involved in my education, not because it wasn’t important, but because they had no idea how to help me. The college application process is overwhelming, confusing, and stressful, even when you have parents able to guide you. Imagine going through that process with zero support. Fortunately, I had the support of a college access organization in high school, and when I graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, I knew helping kids like me was my calling.
But it is not just about going to college, it’s about finishing. DTS helps our students throughout college, as they begin to feel homesick, feel guilty about leaving home, as they encounter racial discrimination, as they get their first D. It’s very easy to quit when you face these challenges and you have no one to support you. That’s the support DTS gives. For our students, getting that college acceptance in their inbox is just the first step; walking across the stage in their cap and gown, being handed their college diploma, knowing that they’ve set themselves up for a meaningful and prosperous life is the ultimate goal.”