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Stanford University senior returns to College Possible to help peers on path to graduation

Ghawayne Calvin isn’t an average College Possible intern. He’s supporting his peers as a student in the College Possible program himself.

Originally from Jamaica, Ghawayne graduated as class valedictorian from Omaha Northwest High School in 2017 and support from his coaches helped him enrolled at Stanford University in California.

“I enjoyed my time in high school, and my College Possible coaches were helpful with filling out and answering scholarship questions, and working on my personal statement. My college coaches also helped me figure out internships and scholarships, always checking in on me to make sure I was doing well. They always seem to call me when I actually need someone to talk.”

A student in development biology and African and African American Studies, Ghawayne is entering last year at Stanford this fall. He’s currently interning through a federal program called Community Service Work Study that connects students to nonprofits. The 368-hour paid internship is a great match for students already familiar with mission-driven organizations, too, Ghawayne said.

“I applied with the intention of working with College Possible. My personal history with the organization and the commitment to equity and education motivated me to choose College Possible.”

Ghawayne began his internship in June, and serves through early September, helping college students enroll for fall classes and persist in school. Still a student himself, Ghawayne was a little nervous at first, wondering how he would communicate effectively. He quickly realized being a student in the program is beneficial to his internship.

“My background has helped me understand some of the problems students are going through, how they interact, and the formats they want to communicate in. I am able to give them access to College Possible in a way that works for college students.”

Sharing experiences, stories and resources are a few of the reasons Ghawayne loves his internship, even reconnecting with a former high school classmate.

“The role of an enrollment intern is such an important role and being able to tell students accurate information is important. I don’t have all the answers to everything, so I reach out to those who have been doing this for longer for help.”

Ghawayne moved to the United States with his dad in 2013, a big change for the young teenager. He didn’t want to lose himself or his Jamaican culture. Ghawayne found comfort and belonging attending College Possible high school sessions.

“It was very reassuring, because I didn’t feel alone. There was definitely community there. Because College Possible was diverse, I had access to a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds. There are immigrants and first generation students. We can talk about culture shock and ways we stay true to our roots.

We were all college-focused, so it was easy to talk about what we imaged for the future, and it was fun to know that even a number of Saturdays we were going to school to practice for ACT.”

After graduation, Ghawwayne will take time off before continuing his education. He wants to become a physician or public health researcher.

Why is a college degree valuable?

“For low-income students, a college degree can be a way to get out of poverty. It’s not only the degree, but having a social network. You might have a degree, but you might very well need other people.”

What have you learned this summer?

“I have learned there are people who go through a lot. There is this statement “pull up your bootstraps” but you cannot apply that to people. There are so many factors that contribute to student success, like mentorship or being able to lean on family members. This idea ignores the idea that you need a support system. It’s hard. Going to college is hard, and it’s even harder when you can’t depend on your school.”

Why did you choose Stanford?

“One of the reasons why I choose Stanford was the financial aid package, and because of my family’s background, I knew we wouldn’t be able to cover any of that. I always liked Stanford, and the weather and the layout of the school always reminded me of Jamaica.”

What does College Possible mean to you?

“As a student, the work College Possible does to help guide us through the college process is nothing short of amazing. As a first generation and low-income student, having people who have gone through the process is very helpful as there are questions we may not know to ask. Having someone to check-in with or just to talk about college life has allowed me to work through so many of my own struggles.”


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