To Anavela, a college degree means more than higher education — it will mean that her parents’ hard work and sacrifice have paid off. The Westside High School senior has always felt like college is for her because of the work her two parents have put in since they came to America. Her mom came from El Salvador at 15 years old, and her dad came from Mexico at 14. While her parents didn’t receive an education, they worked tirelessly to see Anavela and her siblings get their high school diplomas and, eventually, a college degree.
Getting my college degree is not just for me, it’s a dedication to my parents and hopefully a way I can make life better for them,” she says.
Anavela is a part of Intern Omaha, a program that connects high school juniors to internship opportunities throughout the Omaha community. Through the program, Anavela applied to intern for Koley Jessen Attorneys, where she was introduced to various fields of law including employment, litigation and environmental, to name a few. She also completes weekly projects for the firm.
Because of her experience in her internship program, Anavela is hoping to attend Loyola University Chicago on a pre-law track and major in global studies. She said she wants to be an employment law attorney to help people who have been in similar situations as her family and others in immigrant communities.
Anavela wants to finish her undergraduate and Juris Doctor programs in Chicago before becoming a lawyer. One huge benefit of the College Possible program is that it assists students in finding their “right fit” school. When asked why Loyola feels that way to her, she says, “I just love Chicago because I fit in and am more connected to my roots. The school is very welcoming and I think it will give me great connections to the city to make my dreams come true.”
Loyola University requires that all undergraduate students complete an internship to graduate. This was a key factor in Anavela’s decision. It showed her that the school is serious about getting its students involved with the community and real-world experience.
As a first-generation student, Anavela says the help she’s received from College Possible has made her feel more prepared and confident about completing college applications. During her two years in the College Possible program, Anavela says, she’s enjoyed getting help with editing her college essays and filling out the FAFSA.
Mondays and Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week because I know my coach will be there. She’s made me forget that the college process is stressful and always makes me feel so productive,” she says.