Meet Vanesa: Put Yourself Out There
PeerForward alumni have followed many career paths and found much success. Here, Vanesa Coger shares her journey.
When did you become a Peer Leader? What was your summer workshop experience like?
In the summer of 2012, I had the opportunity to attend a PeerForward workshop at Yale University. It was such an amazing experience for me because I’m pretty shy and reserved at times, but I also love meeting new people and forming new friendships. What stood out to me the most were the Alumni Leaders – they were so full of energy and made the workshop enjoyable by sharing their stories and getting to know everyone individually. They were so inspiring that halfway through the workshop I was already asking them how I could become an Alumni Leader. During the Rap Sessions, I learned that it’s important to give yourself credit for your accomplishments no matter how small they may seem and that whatever obstacle you face in life, it can only make you a stronger person. It was because of the Rap Sessions that me and my peers continued to bond after the workshop ended. I appreciate everyone who helped make that workshop the best experience of my life—it’s why I also come back to PeerForward every summer.
How did PeerForward help you to prepare for college and influence your college experience?
Prior to attending the workshop, I had never been in a college dorm so I didn’t know what to expect, and I was afraid to share a room with someone. However, this experience really prepared me for when I went away for college. PeerForward gave me valuable information about financial aid and showed me that my voice and story matters – that deserve to go to college. I absolutely loved the writing sessions because I was able to talk about myself as an individual and my goals in my personal statement. PeerForward continues to influence me by allowing me to serve as an Alumni Leader each summer and also being an active Alumni Ambassador during the school year. I’m always determined to do more and remain involved because I know that Peer Leaders look up to me. Whenever I need help or advice my PeerForward family is always lending a helping hand which makes it easier for me to ask for help.
What obstacles or challenges did you have to overcome in order to get to college?
Going to school out-of-state and paying for it was a big challenge for me to overcome. I received a fair amount of scholarships, but I still had to come up with a large chunk of money. I ended up taking out loans and was able to work with a financial advisor who helped me plan out how much I could pay while in school so that I wouldn’t owe a lot of money upon graduation. It was the best decision for me.
How did you and your fellow Peer Leaders help create a college-going culture?
We planned monthly events with the rest of our classmates to share the college knowledge we had gained from PeerForward. Once or twice a week, the entire senior class would go to the computer lab after school to fill out their college applications and search for scholarships. All of the Peer Leaders in my class made sure that our classmates were not only accepted to college, but also attended in the fall.
What campus activities are you currently involved in?
I am currently the President of the Dance Club and a general member of the Fashion Club, Multicultural Club, and Human Resource Club at Fisher College.
What do you plan to do after college?
I recently graduated in May with my Associates Degree in Fashion Merchandising. Now I want to continue my education in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship to fulfill my dream of owning a fashion line and running stores around the world.
What advice do you have for high school students who are on the fence about going to college?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. College offers you the chance to put yourself out there, to do and see things for the first time. At times it may seem daunting, but you should jump at the opportunity to put your best foot forward and reach your potential – whether it’s in the classroom or in a sport/club you’re involved in. Being involved on campus shapes you into the person you want to be. You will meet people from all around the world and you will have endless many opportunities to explore in your field of study, so take advantage and have fun. It will truly be the best experience you will ever have.