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Stories from Graduates: Passing Along Knowledge

AmandaBy Amanda
David Douglas High School, ’16
Lawrence University, ’20
Pronouns: she/her

It all started with a cheesecake; that was the essay that got me into college. It was a story, not of my successes, but rather my failure in making something and letting my siblings see it. I wanted to let them know as the oldest that it was ok to fail and to understand that most times, it can be fixed. As the oldest, I was the guinea pig because I was the first to go and work out a path to apply for college and then graduate from college. 

Before getting into college, my understanding of the academic world was limited because I had a silly notion that people after high school were just dropped off this high school cliff and somehow became adults. At that time, I didn’t understand what it meant to “go to college.” What did you need to do? Convinced by an upperclassman to sign up for College Possible, I put in an application and was whisked into a school year of ACT practice testing and a year after that of working on college applications.  

During that time, I was incredibly excited about learning this new information about applying to college and getting into college – – I really have my College Possible coach, Sabrina, to thank for that. This idea of independence and learning had this shiny factor to it. It was like uncharted territory. Understanding each component of the college application gave me a better understanding to teach my siblings how to apply to college. I would excitedly share with them the importance of a statement of purpose essay or how even though it was tedious and mind-numbing at times, to take the ACT seriously.  

At the same time, I realize now how many barriers there are to college for those who don’t understand the jargon or the financial lingo necessary to apply or go to college; most people don’t have a College Possible coach or someone to ask. But, I was lucky to have support throughout my college years and I was able to graduate during one of the most trying times: the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Six months after graduating, I started working at a bank for about a year, but I felt disconnected from my community. I was used to being a mentor, and collaborating with my communities whether that was for dance or simply at the library. Here at the bank, I wasn’t connecting or making an impact with the community and felt incredibly stressed out over minute details. So, that led me to work as a college and career coach for an alternative high school this past year. I felt that I could make the same impact for students there that my College Possible coach, Sabrina, had made for me. Working at the high school reignited my passion to work with my community. I was able to help students through the college process, and apply for scholarships, just like my College Possible coach did for me. The impact I made with these students led me to pursue further education because my experience as a first-generation student has taught me how important knowledge and wisdom are in overcoming barriers which is why I will start my career by sharing knowledge with my community.  

I decided to pursue higher education to become a public librarian. My goal as a future public librarian is to continue to better connect and create spaces for marginalized communities because the library is a resource for all to use.  

It’s strange to think of it now, that my path started with a cheesecake. But really, it started before that. I was given knowledge of tools and ingredients in order to make this metaphorical cake, which has led me to my path today.  

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