Volunteer Joseph Tavares

college access

College Summit Volunteer Joseph Tavares recently shared why he travels from his work base of Jakarta, Indonesia to donate his time and talents assisting College Summit summer workshops each year.

Tell us about your personal college journey.
“My grandparents immigrated from the Cape Verde Islands and settled in Rhode Island as young adults. They did not come to the United States with high school diplomas, and unfortunately, the professional opportunities available to my grandparents were limited. However, my grandparents believed in the power of education and all four of their children pursued higher education. Without question, my parents being first in their families to earn college degrees expanded possibilities for my siblings and me. I attended St. Bonaventure University, a small Catholic college in western New York, which offered me a close-knit community and the opportunity to study abroad in England and Argentina. I grew up in a small town, and my college education was literally a passport.”
And after college?
“After college, I went to work at a public relations firm in Washington, D.C. I quickly realized, however, that my true passion was helping young people. For the next three years, I worked at a college access organization helping students across the United States become first in their family to go to college.”
Now you’re a counselor at the Jakarta Intercultural School, helping students find and apply to college…
“Since leaving Washington, D.C., I have worked as a high school counselor in Brazil, Egypt, and Indonesia. My students in Jakarta have my support as they navigate the college process. However, working internationally has opened my eyes to a sad reality – that the challenges of college access globally are just as big, if not bigger, than they are in the United States. I am working right now with members of the International Association for College Admission Counseling to increase college knowledge-sharing with under-resourced communities around the world. My motivation to do this work is an unwavering belief that one day all students, no matter their country of origin or socioeconomic status, will have equal access for postsecondary educational opportunities.”
And every summer you return to the U.S. and volunteer with College Summit?
“Even though I live outside of the United States, it is important to me to continue to support college access in my home country. I have admired the work of College Summit since I learned about the organization in 2008, and it is my pleasure to volunteer as a College Coach each summer.”
Do any of the students you have met through College Summit stand out for you?
“It is impossible for me to single out one student. Any young person who is driven to be first in their family to go to college does not just stand out to me, they inspire me. As a high school counselor, I know firsthand it is not easy to change a school’s college-going culture. However, College Summit students have a unique combination of skills and character traits that will enable them to do so, and it is my pleasure to play a small part in their higher education journeys. It goes beyond the classroom. College Summit is not about just getting into college. It is about helping young people understand how to make a better future for themselves and their communities. The journey to college is just one step. College Summit is not just preparation for college or a job. It is preparation for life.”
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