Meet Kadene: I Didn’t Know the First Thing About How to Get to College

Kadene PitterPeerForward alumni have followed many career paths and found much success. Here, Kadence Pitter shares her journey.

When did you become a part of PeerForward? Please share your Summer Workshop experience. 

My summer workshop was at Yale University in 2011. I remember a young man coming into my classroom and asking if we would be willing to serve as a peer mentor for our fellow classmates. Everyone raised their hands. Then he asked, “Who would be willing to spend a few days away during the summer on a college campus?” My hand was the first that went up.
I stayed in Pierson College, one of Yale’s many residential halls. The days were long and hot, but they were worth it. I remember going home and feeling both liberated and empowered, thanks to the rap sessions, FAFSA activities, and intense sessions with my Writing Coach.

How did PeerForward help you prepare for college? How has PeerForward influenced your college experience?  

PeerForward has helped me prepare for college in many more ways than one. Perhaps the most profound lesson I learned from the whole experience was that I could do it. When I participated in the program, I had only been living here for a year. I knew I was going to college, but I didn’t know the first thing about how to get there. My goal was to find a way to pay for school myself so that my parents wouldn’t have added expenses. Thus, while at the workshop, I took in all that I could during the Tower of Power session. I learned that no matter how limited my financial resources are, there was always a way. One of my Alumni Leaders mentioned she was able to go to college for free. I told myself, “I want to be like her.” Today, I can proudly say that I was able to achieve a scholarship for full tuition!

What obstacles or challenges did you have to overcome in order to get to college?  

The biggest challenge I had to overcome in order to get to college was understanding how to navigate the process. Being here for only a year, there was very little that I knew about choosing the right school. While I did have very helpful counselors, they were also assisting many other students. As a result, I was not able to sit with them as long as I needed to, and have all of my questions answered. PeerForward definitely helped me in that respect. The program personalized the process, made it about me and my story, which helped me find a college that would be the best for me, and a campus that would allow me to make the most out of my experience.

How did you and your fellow Peer Leaders help create a college-going culture? Please share any events, campaigns or programs that you planned for your high school.  

Within my high school, my fellow Peer Leaders and I did a lot in efforts to impart unto the students the knowledge we had gained at our workshop. We ran a FAFSA parent-student night with the help of our PeerForward partnering teachers. We also reenacted Tower of Power to get them to understand how the financial aid process works. It was a huge success. Individually, we had our own campaigns as well. We sometimes assisted students one-on-one with their personal statements. Sometimes we were there helping with the Common App, answering questions as they came up. My personal campaign was scholarships. Whenever I received information about a scholarship, I would text the members of my class the details: where they could apply, eligibility requirements, and refer them to the guidance counselor’s office for applications and more information.

 What campus activities are you involved in? 

Currently, I work on campus with the Academic Media Services department as an Audiovisual Technician. My responsibility is to assist professors with media equipment in their classrooms should they have any issues, and assemble it for presentations and events throughout campus. I am also a Horizons Mentor Coordinator, which is a mentoring program for multicultural first year students. Additionally, I have been chosen as a Global Ambassador, which is a role associated with a program consisting of a few select students who have studied abroad. We have monthly meetings, and plan and facilitate events and information sessions for other students who have or are thinking about studying abroad. On Fridays, I host a radio show called “Lyrikally Lyrikz” at my school’s radio station, where I play music from the Caribbean diaspora in an effort to educate students about our style of music. I am also a member of the Women Empowered club.

What do you plan to do after college?

After graduation, I hope to begin my career in the field of marketing. I am currently in the process of applying for jobs, and so far I have two prospects: New York Life Insurance as a Financial Advisor, and Cumulus Media, Providence, as an Account Representative. My plan is to do a maximum of two years to gain some field experience, and then continue my education in pursuit of my Master’s Degree, in order to get a more comprehensive education in the subject.

What advice do you have for high school seniors who are on the fence about going to college?

To those of you who are unsure about college, I would say do it. It is better to have tried than to not have tried at all, and then ask yourself “What if?” Personally, that is one of the feelings I dislike the most. Also, don’t doubt yourself. I find myself doing the same thing at times, only to realize that I am limiting my own capabilities and accomplishments. Believing in yourself and trusting in your abilities is one of the best things that you can do for you. So don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from going after what you want. Eventually, you get comfortable with what was once uncomfortable, and you start reaching for more.

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