By Freidricka Camille, College and Career Mentoring Program Coordinator, and Mecca C., Woodrow Wilson High School Alumna, Class of 2019
Photos courtesy of Freidricka Camille
With the summer behind us and the new school year upon us, we interview AALEAD alumna Mecca C. to hear her experience in the college prep program.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Mecca! I recently graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, in Ward 3 of DC, on June 15, 2019. Through hard work and the aid of both my basketball coach and AALEAD’s College and Career Mentoring Program (CCMP), I am happy to share that I will be attending Bryant & Stratton College in Buffalo, NY on a full athletic scholarship.
When did you get involved with AALEAD’s College and Career Mentoring Program?
I first went to AALEAD’s College Mentoring Program the summer leading up to my senior year. That way, I could build a better relationship and talk to Ms. Freidricka more. For those of you who don’t know, she’s the coordinator for the program, and she works with high school seniors on their college applications or planning out other decisions if going to college isn’t for them.
I think it was better to do College Mentoring during the summer to prepare for the start of the senior year. Also, since I was a winter athlete, getting everything out of the way before the pre-season workouts was a great advantage I had over my peers. I knew I wanted to be a part of this program because I knew who and what I was getting myself into. AALEAD has always been a place I could come and seek help, so when this opportunity came up, I was sure to jump on it. I’m happy I did, it was super helpful!
In what ways did the program guide you in making progress towards your post high school plans?
Ms. Freidricka explained the whole college application process to me, knowing that I am the first in my family to go to college. We wrote down my high school SATs and did research on possible schools I would apply to based on my academics. I had to up my research skills. I learned to look at things like school demographics, clubs on campus, location, what majors were offered, and if I could see myself in that college. After I made a list of schools, I began the writing process. I drafted a few essays, and she helped me by providing feedback and really making sure I answered the prompts. We went through a couple of essay revisions, and then I submitted my applications.
Besides college, I considered the possibility of joining the military or playing at a community college instead. I shared my thoughts on both with Ms. Freidricka, and she gave feedback on how both decisions were going to set me up for success. The space she made for me was comfortable, and I was able to share my concerns without feeling judged. She was very helpful in my decision to attend Bryant & Stratton College, which was not part of my original college list. I applied there because they saw my potential in basketball and gave me a scholarship. Everything else started to move forward from there.
What were some of the things you learned from being a part of the program?
One important thing I learned while working with Ms. Freidricka is that the college application process is actually Quite Hard. Neither my mother nor father attended college, so they couldn’t help me with moving through the process. She answered all the questions I had and never got annoyed with me.
I also was able to talk and share what I was feeling with other peers who also saw Ms. Freidricka in the program. The other seniors helped me get more perspective on the college process coming from their different experiences.
What makes AALEAD’s college prep program different and unique from other college support services providers in your school or in your community?
Well at my high school, our college counseling team was pretty helpful, but they focus mainly on our academic stats. And because they have so many other students to deal with, I didn’t think I was getting the attention I needed. My school has close to 2,000 students. How could they focus and give quality time to everyone? When I went to the AALEAD office, I knew that it would just be me or a small group. Because I didn’t have to compete for time, I was always in a better mood to actually work towards the college process. Another way this program was different was that it wasn’t boring. I know that sounds a little weird like the college process isn’t supposed to be fun, right ? Well yeah, it’s not fun, but having someone make it fun actually makes you want to do it, and the results are better. I went everyday knowing I was going to get work done, but also enjoy my time, eat snacks, and have a safe place to talk. Sometimes other programs do not or cannot always achieve that goal. That’s why I am thankful for this program.
What insights or recommendations would you share with or recommend to seniors who are on the fence about joining the program?
Well my personality sets me up to always do anything that will better myself and help me, but to the other seniors who are unsure I just say DO IT! It is worth the time you put in, honestly. Yeah you might wanna hang with friends, or do something that’s not college related. It’s smart to address it now and not wait till the last minute like some of my peers. Trust me it’s so much stress and pressure released knowing you got through it and also with someone by your side the whole way through. Anyone got questions about college and future plans make sure to hit up Ms. Freidricka to join her program.
Thank you, Mecca for sharing your words and experience with us. We wish you the best of luck in your college journey!