It Comes In Threes

Author: Vanesa Contreras Rodriguez - Summer Intern

August 3, 2016

Vanesa Contreras Rodríguez is a student at Arizona State University, studying entrepreneurship in the W.P. Carey School of Business.  As a student
 who is passionately committed to her community, she is interning at Helios for the summer.  She is working with our Community Investment Center of Excellence providing her knowledge and expertise to help strategize how to ensure more Latino students are prepared for success in college and career and ultimately, graduate with a postsecondary degree.  We asked Vanesa to share her thoughts with us.  The following is the second in a series of articles that Vanesa will be contributing to the Helios blog.

Thinking back to my high school years, I have reflected on the vast resources that were available to students like me.  Unfortunately, many students don’t take advantage of these resources, which can be a disservice to themselves and the community. 

Students have limitless access to college and career ready information and strategies, it’s just a matter of putting forward the effort. Additionally, parental figures and community leaders need to realize the value they could add to the potential of young minds. I have detailed below quick tips for students to strengthen their academic journey.  In addition, I’ve shared how parental figures and community leaders can better engage the youth. 

Students, here are 3 simple tips for your success in high school, continuing onto college:

  1. Be proactive: Explore what your school and community has to offer. Find opportunities that interest you and get involved whether it is a club on campus or volunteering at a community center. Do not wait for opportunities to come to you on a silver platter.

  2. Prioritize relationship building: If you are applying for scholarships or academic programs (which you should be) letters of recommendation are an important factor. Not only will this person be attesting to your academic merit, but your personal character and potential as well.

  3. Become the best version of yourself: You will likely never be surrounded by as many resources, individuals who think alike, and opportunities as you will in high school and college. Use this time to explore yourself and develop your character and skills.
Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.  Will Rogers

Community leaders, you have a pool of students with immense drive and knowledge, here are some tips for incorporating students into your business operations and harnessing their energy.

  1. Invest in the youth. It saddens me to see students with so much to offer rule out college because it is not within their financial scope. Invest in students and their families with scholarships or financial literacy, alleviating the financial burden and setting them up for success.

  2. Get to understand underrepresented students and their needs. Welcoming diversity and knowing how to engage with students from different backgrounds, will not only take your organization to the next level, but provide crucial mentorship to students, many of whom fall in the first-generation category, the guidance and support they need.

  3. Refocus your thoughts on students. Students are eager to apply what they are being taught. Providing internships or shadow days for students will give them the exposure they need and debunk student stereotypes. Internships provide students with first-hand experiences of what it takes to meet the demands of the “real world”.

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.  John Buchan

Parents and parental figures, you are a student’s prime educator. My tips for you are simple:   Listen, advise, and encourage. My parents have always been my backbone and sounding board. Even if they do not understand what I am speaking about, they make the attempt to connect and guide me when faced with a problem or opportunity. Their encouragement is unwavering and a factor to my success as a student. Be there for your child, guide and support them as they embark on a continuous path of different journeys throughout their lives.

Being a first generation student, seeking resources, advice or someone to talk to can be difficult and honestly, awkward. Students, don’t let the lack of direct information stop you from digging further. Community leaders, students are ready to learn, all they are waiting for is someone to place a bet on them. Parents, you are the holy grail, engage your child and encourage them to continue their journey no matter how hard it can get. Everything is possible with the right combination of effort, support, and faith.

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