Exploring Our Options

By Shaima Ahmad VA High School Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff and Youth

For the past few weeks our MD, DC, and, VA youth have been coming together every Monday and focusing their attention on college readiness and planning for the upcoming annual youth summit. College preparation is a vital part of the high school summer program. We hope to give our high school youth an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the college process and prepare themselves in the best way possible. With all that said, the past 2 weeks our high school youth traveled near and far to visit college campuses. Last week, 18 youth had the opportunity to visit the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by a visit to the George Washington University. ¬†AALEADers were able to experience first hand the differences and truly understand the importance of what it means to “pick the right college.”

Our visit to William and Mary was hosted by the Asian American Student Initiative and included a welcome information session followed by a campus tour with AASI members, chock full of W&M fun facts. We had the added benefit that Ari – MD High School Program Coordinator – is an alumnae of W&M and filled our visit with valuable insight.

The members of AASI were able to share with our youth the process of how AASI began at William and Mary and importance of having such an organization where AAPI youth can come together, bond and have a safe space to interact.

After taking in the tranquil and serene sights of William & Mary, and despite the pouring rain, we headed over to Richmond to visit VCU. Exploring such different campuses back to back really gave our youth an idea of how much of an impact campus size and location has on the college experience. Our tour at VCU concluded with a stop at the dining hall where our youth were provided with VCU dining vouchers. I think this gave them a real appreciation for the value of a “home cooked meal” and an idea what campus cuisine has to offer.

The following week we headed over to the George Washington University to the Multicultural Student Services Center. Our visit began with a panel of GW students sharing their experiences with our youth and answering a variety of questions. Our youth then broke into 4 groups and headed out for a campus tour. To add a little excitement we incorporated a scavenger hunt to the campus tour, courtesy of staff members and GW alumni Shobana and Chelsea. Despite the scorching heat, our groups pressed on to scramble and find items on the list.

A shout out to AASI – William & Mary, VCU – Admissions Office, and the MSSC – George Washington University for enriching our college visits!

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