Meet Aloysia: Have Confidence in Yourself
PeerForward alumni have followed many career paths and found much success. Here, Aloysia Jean shares her journey.
When did you become a Peer Leader? What was your summer workshop experience like?
My Peer Leader workshop was at Yale University in 2012. I remember being so excited to be with people from other high schools that were motivated to go to college. I never really talked about college with my friends so PeerForward was definitely an experience I was ready for. Being on Yale’s campus was so encouraging; after staying in the dorms, I got used to the idea that I am worthy of going to a school like Yale. Having the Alumni Leaders around made everything intriguing and motivating. They made me feel so incredibly special – they cared about my obstacles and aspirations. Because of them, I understood that it was completely possible to thrive in college. My Rap Director spoke so powerfully; I was proud of myself and the things I worked hard for. I left PeerForward knowing that I was going to college, I could help my classmates get there, I was going to do well, and that I had people who believed in me.
How did you and your fellow Peer Leaders help create a college-going culture?
Being a Peer Leader at Hillhouse had its highs and lows. My team of Peer Leaders were trailblazers—we didn’t have the guidance of older Peer Leaders. We often struggled with creating a college-going culture in group settings – but we found that we were extremely impactful when we helped students individually. We used our free class periods to sit in our counselor’s office and offer guidance and support to any student who needed it. It wasn’t unusual to have a couple of Peer Leaders staying after school to help others with the application process. It’s was incredibly rewarding to share my college knowledge – and see my classmates go from being unsure about their future to planning it for themselves.
How did PeerForward help you prepare for college and what was its influence your college experience?
If it wasn’t for PeerForward, I would have been so lost during the FAFSA application process. My mother was entirely too busy to help me, so I was on my own. I took all the knowledge I had gained from my summer workshop and applied it. Pretty soon, I was answering calls explaining FAFSA to my classmates. I was just so prepared to be a leader for myself and for my friends. Once I started Georgetown, I realized that I still had various unpaid expenses. However, I was comfortable going to the financial aid office and advocating for myself. That’s the PeerForward way!
What obstacles or challenges did you have to overcome in order to get to college?
When I left for Georgetown, my life at home was really unstable. My mother was in an accident that had left her unable to work so we relied on my sister for everything. Because I wasn’t at home, things began to change rapidly and I constantly felt like my life was falling apart underneath me. I had to stay strong and seek out support for my issues at home. It wasn’t easy leaving my mother behind while she was hurt, but I had to do it. It was incredibly hard and emotionally taxing, but I feel so much stronger now.
What campus activities are you currently involved in?
Currently, I am the Executive Producer of the Black Theatre Ensemble at Georgetown, Trip Leader for Georgetown’s Alternative Breaks program, a mentor, and work part-time at our famous deli, Wisemiller’s.
What do you plan to do after college?
That’s a question I am still struggling with. I would love to work at a non-profit organization that focuses on community-driven projects. I also hope to work with Teach for America in the DMV area. Overall, I want to continue working with students who have amazing potential – but haven’t unleashed it yet. In the meantime, I will be applying to graduate school to get my Masters in Public Administration. Hopefully, more plans fall together soon, but I’m confident that I will have the opportunity to work with my community full-time.
What advice do you have for high school students who are on the fence about going to college?
Have confidence in yourself. Facing such a huge milestone can be incredibly intimidating but you can move miles in a very short amount of time. Remember that you deserve to experience post-secondary education – no matter where you come from or how much money you have. Never underestimate yourself or your potential.