Upon graduation from college this year, I look at where I am now and where I want to be. Columbia University has had a remarkable impact on my outlook in so many ways—introducing me to cultures, religions, philosophies, science, broadening the scope of my knowledge and understanding. The impact of those influences will stay with me as I contemplate my ambitions in terms of my career and my goal of traveling the world.
I now work as a software engineer for a full-service advertising company. Beyond a career in that line of work, I aim to become a tech entrepreneur. I could have, on the way to pursuing my objectives, ended up at other fine colleges in different parts of the country from which I also received enticing offers. While I chose Columbia, being a first-generation graduate would mean as much to me no matter which college I attended.
This graduation milestone has all the more meaning because the message that careers and college are for everyone is not heard as much as it should be in Northeast D.C., where I grew up and went to school. In this, I was fortunate that my family and friends were so supportive of my aspirations, as were my many mentors, teachers and advisors at high school.
I also am fortunate to have made many friends at Columbia. As a student-athlete, my football brethren and I immediately bonded. Learning about each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations made me feel at home. Next, I made friends beyond the team. This was slightly harder to do initially, but became easier over time, especially as my liberal arts perspective broadened my views.
What I found at Columbia is that preparation, composure and adaptability paved the way for my success in college. Additionally, Friendship Collegiate Academy, a college preparatory public charter high school with an on-time high school graduation rate far above the D.C. average, helped prepared me. They emphasized the importance of becoming an ethical, literate, well-rounded, and self-sufficient citizen, and encouraged me to realize my potential with my 4.1 GPA.
Of those qualities, “well-rounded” proved to be the most vital during my college tenure. Like a circle, bit by bit, I acquired more and more knowledge, through my college courses and while being surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds.
And backing up all of the positive influences in my life were scholarships—Friendship Scholars; the D.C. Association for Chartered Public Schools, which named me the most successful D.C. public charter school college graduate of the year; Columbia Financial Aid; and Grace UMC, helping with my dreams when it became time to go to college.
As I look to the future, I feel confident that more of what has taken me to this point will take me further still.
This month, thousands of high school students will graduate from charter schools across the county. We are so impressed by everything that these students have accomplished and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Check back here every day to see a new charter school graduate in our 30 Days of Grad series. Want to share your story? Join the conversation using#30DaysOfGrad.