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Graduate Feature: Ana

After attending a field trip to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in elementary school, Ana knew that college was for her. While she had never been introduced to the idea beforehand, she became set on furthering her education and doing so at UNL seemed the perfect place to do just that. However, after joining the College Possible program her junior year of high school, the idea of attending college outside Nebraska became a viable option.

Ana was a junior attending Omaha South High Magnet School when she first met her College Possible coach. In addition to attending College Possible workshops and working through the assigned curriculum, Ana said her coach helped her apply for a summer program at Harvard University. Thinking back on the three months she spent in Massachusetts, Ana recalls, “That experience made me feel more confident about going to college outside the state.”

As part of the College Possible curriculum, students are required to apply to at least five “perfect fit” colleges. With her list in hand, Ana sent out letters hoping for the best. Once Ana had received and reviewed all of her acceptance letters, she examined the most critical part of her college experience – the cost. Ana compared the total cost and the financial aid packages offered by her top choices. To her surprise, Ana discovered that with the financial aid packages offered, attending Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York City, was actually the most cost-effective option.

I would never look back on that decision. My college experience is something I am incredibly grateful for, and even if I explained it, it wouldn’t show how truly happy I am.”

While small, Barnard College, an affiliate of Columbia University, has a robust course catalog coupled with world-class scientific and research facilities. Students have access to Columbia resources including internships, work studies and professors. Initially unsure of what her academic path should be, Ana eventually chose to study applied mathematics while at Barnard College. Remembering her early exposure to math and how much she enjoyed it, she realized she had always been drawn to math and that it was the natural next step for her.

In addition to academics, Ana immersed herself in campus life, committing time to a campus organization specifically focused on first-generation students who came from low-income backgrounds. One of her favorite group projects was creating a lending library to provide free textbooks to students.  Ana worked with library officials to get the books in circulation in the library system and even received additional funding. “I wanted to volunteer throughout college, and the opportunity to grow this project and help fellow students was fulfilling. We even shipped books to students during the pandemic so they could have their books.”

During her junior year of college, she was focused on getting an internship and, as a member of the Society of Women Engineers, was able to attend their annual conference. While at the conference, she interviewed with British Petroleum (BP) and they eventually reached out to her for a summer internship. Following the internship, she was offered a full-time position as an Information Security and Risk Analyst. She graduated in April 2021 and began her career with BP in late June.

College Possible really enlightened me about the opportunities available to me. They really opened my eyes to everything that is out there and made it tangible.”

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