Blog

Ready to Own It

Today, we feature a guest post by our Scholar Wendy Gonzalez. Wendy attends Northern Virginia Community College while raising her son. She also interns with Reingold, Inc., where she works with her Sponsor Shannon Tucker.

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As we start a new year, we know 2014 will bring challenges as well as opportunities to become something better. Generation Hope reminds me that with focus and determination, I can do anything.

For me, that’s a powerful idea. I am an 18-year-old teen mother with a 2-year-old son. I became pregnant my junior year of high school, and I had difficult moments when I had to miss school because my son was sick. My social life slowly deteriorated once I became a parent. I worried that I wouldn’t make my mother proud of me.

Even before I had my son, I knew the challenges I would face. I was raised in a single-parent home. Money in our house was very tight because there was only one income providing for my brother and me. Through the years, I felt lonely, with no father figure and lack of motivation to dream for something more. My mother only graduated from high school, and I planned to do the same and end my education.

But once I became a mother, I understood I needed to improve my life to provide the best for my son and my family. Thanks to God, determination, and the Generation Hope staff, I was accepted into the program. They believed in me; faith in scholars’ potential is what makes Generation Hope unique.

I am glad to say I am a Generation Hope Scholar and feel as if I am not the only teen parent struggling to become successful. My days look different from those of many college freshmen: I used to hang out with friends after school, take 30 minutes to get ready for a party, and post on my friends’ Facebook walls. These days, I spend most of my time with my son—in addition to attending school, working as an intern at a communications firm, and keeping up with duties at home. I can’t just go to the movies with my friends now. Someday in the near future, when I have earned a degree, am economically stable, and my son is older, then I won’t think twice about going. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things temporarily to realize the future you want.

I am happy to have my Generation Hope Sponsor—a mentor who supports me every day. I can talk to her about anything. She helps me with many things, from motivating me when I’m ready to throw in the towel to finding alternate child care. We were able to build our relationship fast, as if we had known each other for years. She is always trying her best to help me succeed. After meeting her, I have learned that asking for help isn’t wrong, but instead to reach out when you need help, because others may have more knowledge and are able to give you a hand.

All of us who are part of Generation Hope can look back at 2013 with pride. 2014 will bring challenges as well as opportunities to become something better. Thirteen new scholars, including me, began their journeys with Generation Hope, with more to come. Generation Hope founder Nicole Lynn Lewis recently spoke about her moving experience as a teen parent in college at a TEDx event. I am inspired by her words, and with Generation Hope’s help with time management skills, I am ready to become a better student and strengthen my relationships. In 2014, anything is possible for me.

A Community in their Corner

 Megan at our 2013 Fall Field Trip to the National Building Museum!

Megan at our 2013 Fall Field Trip to the National Building Museum!

In graduate school, it’s easy to think that your life is far more busy, complicated, and stressful than anyone else’s daily routine. As a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, I certainly find myself sliding into this pool of self-pity at times. Then I think about the phenomenal Scholars I’ve gotten the chance to work with through Generation Hope. These young women are just that—Scholars—and many of them the first in their families to attend college. Not only are they managing demanding course loads, but our Scholars are raising families of their own, working both part and full time jobs, and staying actively involved in their campuses and communities (one Scholar serves as President of her school’s student government!).  Their perseverance really puts my “PhD problems” in perspective!

As a first generation college student myself, I have experienced both the incredible challenges and opportunities afforded by higher education. Navigating the bureaucracy of college was completely overwhelming at times—and I was only taking care of myself! Thus, I signed up to volunteer with Generation Hope the very same day I learned about what this organization was doing to help young moms make their educational goals a reality. After meeting with Generation Hope staff, we realized that one of the most challenging transitions in college is the huge leap in the rigor of the coursework. Also, because our Scholars have responsibilities beyond their own schooling, their professor’s office hours aren’t always accessible for their schedules. So, we began a tutoring program, matching local volunteers with varying types of expertise with Scholars who need help in a particular subject area. More than that, our volunteers have helped students apply for scholarships, look over resumes and cover letters, proofread papers, and even just help with general college study skills. It’s been awesome to see our Generation Hope family grow through these partnerships, and the encouragement our Scholars feel through such strong support from the community! So far this year, we’ve matched almost half of our Scholars with tutors, showing just how necessary this program is and what a huge difference it can make in their lives.

We are always looking for more tutoring partners, especially in the math and science fields! If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering, just fill out the application on our website!

-Megan Fitzmaurice, Tutor Program Coordinator

Meet Our New Intern David!

 Our new intern David

Our new intern David

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is David Matthew DeLeon, and I’m a graduate student at the University of Maryland where I am studying Education Policy.  

As some background, I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.  Shortly after my little sister's birth, my mother found out my father was dealing and using drugs so she left him.  In government housing and on food stamps, she attempted to earn her Associate's at a local community college, but being a single-mother and attending classes was too much for her.

Growing up, I was able to circumvent many of the obstacles in my impoverished community and become the first person in my large family to graduate from college.

After earning my B.A. at the University of Texas at Austin, I decided to investigate the underpinnings of education and poverty by teaching in various cities throughout the United States.  So far, I have taught in Olympia, Washington; Austin, Texas; and Brooklyn and Queens, New York.  I also taught in Quito, Ecuador, during the 2012-2013 school year.

I was lucky; despite not having someone from my family or community to help me navigate college life I was able to be successful.  That is why when I found out about all the wonderful work that Generation Hope was doing, I knew I had to find some way to help. 

In addition to teaching, I have also served my community through various volunteer endeavors.  Most recently, I created a free English-language class aimed at serving the custodial and kitchen staff at Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito, where I also taught 6th grade. 

In my free time, I enjoy playing Starcraft, traveling, origami, and reading. 

An EARLY Saturday Morning Creates Long-Lasting Impact

On Saturday, July 27th, my alarm went off much earlier than usual —6 a.m., to be exact. Even as my “sleeping mind” groaned, though, I quickly jumped out of bed. I knew that Saturday was going to be an exciting day because on that day, we officially welcomed 13 new Scholars and 13 new Sponsors into our program!

Our day started off hectic—unloading cars, finding DC parking, and getting situated in the Metropolitan Community Church of DC, which had graciously allowed us to use their beautiful church for the occasion. We had delicious food on its way from Bean Bag Deli & Catering, and Scholars and Sponsors started arriving early! It was so great to see each group start to talk amongst themselves and hear about the path that had brought each of them to Generation Hope.

I had the pleasure of facilitating the ice-breaker activity for the Sponsors, and the range of stories, occupations, and interest areas they shared with each other was incredible—doctors, lawyers, communications professionals, therapists, educators, and more are all represented in this class of Sponsors! Equally diverse is our new class of Scholars—they come from all over the DC metro region and are pursuing majors ranging from Nursing to Computer Science to Early Childhood Education to Criminal Justice. It was also wonderful to have two of our current scholars, Angeline and Marikit, and one of our current Sponsors, Angela, on hand to talk about their experiences and answer questions.

By far the most exciting part of the day was the big “reveal,” when each Scholar and Sponsor get to meet each other for the first time. Although I had had nightmares about awkward first meetings and unhappy matches, our careful matchmaking had indeed paid off, and the room was immediately full of excited hugs, introductions, and chatter. Watching these individuals who I had spent so much time matching on paper actually meet one another and start their mentoring journey was certainly one of the most rewarding aspects of my time with Generation Hope so far, and DEFINITELY worth getting up at 6am to see! 

- Caroline

Why I Sponsor: Julie Kwon

Julie Kwon became a Generation Hope Sponsor this summer to Scholar Me’Chelle Campbell, who attends Prince George’s Community College while raising her daughter. Julie is also a mother to her two-year-old son and is expecting a second child and lives with her husband in Centreville, Virginia. 

Why did you decide to become involved in with Generation Hope?  

 Julie meeting her Scholar, Me'Chelle, for the first time.

Julie meeting her Scholar, Me'Chelle, for the first time.

I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past two years, and I understand the challenges of raising a child. But for many teen mothers, it seems that those challenges are amplified by the demands of school, work, family, and all the changes that come with having a child at a young age. I joined Generation Hope because I want to be a source of support and encouragement to a teen mother who is striving towards stability, academic success, and a promising future for her and her child. 

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