David Morales joined the College Possible AmeriCorps team for the 2023-24 program year, where he’ll be serving juniors at Gresham High School. A graduate of Sacramento State University, David is the first in his family to attend or graduate from college. Read more to learn what drew him to College Possible and why service is so important to him.
What sparked your interest in College Possible and AmeriCorps service?
This is actually my second year serving as a full-time volunteer. Last year, I had the opportunity to serve with Mercy Volunteer Corps in Detroit, where I worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students at Mercy Education Project. I am honored to serve because I realize the immense privilege I have to be in a place where volunteering full-time is a viable option for me. I personally grew up in a low-income family and recognize just how crucial community programs are to support students as they grow and develop.
My year with Mercy Volunteer Corps taught me a lot about intentional, community-centered living and finding ways to practice empathy and simplicity as I stepped into my service site. I grew as a leader and became even more passionate about supporting others’ education and mental health outcomes. I see volunteering as a gift, and when I learned about the opportunity to serve with College Possible, I knew I had to take the opportunity.
Why College Possible?
I was raised in an immigrant family, with parents who moved to the U.S. to provide a better future for their family. My parents worked in agriculture, and growing up, I dealt with a lot of shame related to their jobs and socioeconomic status. Essentially, even though I knew they were capable of much more in their home countries, they were limited by a system that did not serve them. It was a long process for me of unlearning assumptions about my parents’ worth in society and realizing that they possessed a deep knowledge of many things that the traditional education system just doesn’t reward.
College Possible’s commitment to “middle tier” students (not just academic high achievers) also speaks to me personally. I was not a strong student in high school, but I had multiple teachers and mentors who invested in me and helped me realize that college could be in my future. Without their relentless support, I might not have even graduated from high school, let alone college. One of my strongest memories is of a moment when my professor placed her hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and told me I needed to believe in myself.
I firmly believe that education is a pathway to a prosperous life, whether it’s economically, personally or professionally. However, it was a very gradual process for me to transform college from some abstract, out-there idea to something realistic and connected to my passions. Now, I am committed to walking alongside students as they go through those same pathways. I am grateful to share the kindness, love, mercy and patience I received with others, especially those who feel like imposters in the world of college.
What are you excited for this year?
I’m so excited to see how relationships with students blossom and how their initial interest in college will be developed into something deeper. Like I mentioned, it took a lot of support for me to transform my tentative interest in college into something possible and personal. For example, a lot of students are hearing that they should go to college because it will help them earn more money. I’m excited to encourage students to understand that yes, that is true, but college can provide so much more than money alone. I want to encourage students to dive deep into an academic subject that they’re passionate about and pursue a job that they’ve yearned to have. Whatever their unique drive toward college is, I can’t wait to journey alongside them.
I’m also excited to create community and promote teamwork among students so that they realize that they have access to an entire network of support. I know this service year will be challenging in many ways, but I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve as a coach for some amazing high school juniors as they learn more about the college-going process!