Living Our Mission: Alumni Inspiration
Aspire Public Schools | College for Certain Newsletter October 2016
Oct. 31, 2016
For Jorlenise, a 2013 graduate of Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, Aspire provided a sense of family. Not only did she appreciate and thrive in the small school setting, but her siblings (she's the oldest of four) and cousins also attended and still attend Lionel Wilson, making it feel even more supportive. Lionel Wilson's small school setting helped Jorlenise feel connected her with the staff and other students, and she consistently felt that someone was looking out for her.
Currently a senior at UCLA, Jorlenise is studying political science and international relations with the goal of one day being a social entrepreneur and giving back to her community. "There is a big gap in students, minorities that attend college. College is important because it helps break the cycle that a lot of low income students are in." Some of her friends felt they needed to work to provide for their families and put college aside. Jorlenise feels it's important to just keep going, "at least to community college, even if it takes a longer amount of time. Stick with college."
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The academic rigor at Lionel Wilson helped prepare Jorlenise for college. "Aspire provided more than what I had gotten at my old school. They made sure we were always doing something, that we completed assignments and stayed on task. The emphasis on studying and getting ready for college really prepared me."
One of her favorite memories is being at weekly school gatherings called Town Hall. One of the Deans, the late Kevin Schultz, would end each one with a scream- "College!" and all the students would scream back - "Claro!" The weekly reminder of "College! Claro!" energized Jorlenise. "I didn't realize it at the time, but that was something that made me think about and focus on going to college. It left you with this strong feeling- yes, I'm going to college."
Jorlenise's advice to other students is to go out of your comfort zone and explore different things. "You never know what you'll experience or what your passion might be. If you do what you like, you are more likely to succeed."