On October 15, 2016, the Fulfillment Fund celebrated their 20th annual Destination College event at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Attended by more than 2,000 students and gathering representatives from 79 colleges, including Cornell University and Stanford University, the day-long college preparation event was an inspirational success.
Now a college student, Evelin Carrillo has been part of the Fulfillment Fund for a total of six years – four years as a Destination College scholar during her high school years and two years as a volunteer. With a passion for giving back to the community and dedication to helping high school students realize their potential, not only is Evelin a crowd-favorite among Destination College scholars, but also a committed volunteer at the event last Saturday. Through setting the stage, assisting with registration, acting as a liaison to presenters, and welcoming visitors, Evelin played a key role in helping to carry Destination College to success. As an accounting intern at Integritas Resources, Inc., Evelin is excited to share her experience and takeaways from the event with us.
I: What’s so special about the Fulfillment Fund’s Destination College?
E: Destination College is a day-long college preparation event packed with informative workshops, interactive campus tours, and an extensive college fair. It is an invaluable opportunity for high school students and their parents to learn about writing college essays, building a strong high school portfolio, and what to expect at college. The majority of the Fulfillment Fund students are from educationally and economically under-resourced communities, and many of them might be the first in their family to apply to and attend a higher education institution. This is what makes Destination College so meaningful – it helps students realize that attending college is something within their reach, and not simply a dream that is unattainable.
I: What are your takeaways from the workshops?
E: In the workshop for English-speaking parents, we had the pleasure of listening to the inspirational speaker, author, and educator Mr. Stedman Graham talk about the differences between poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods. He pointed out that those living in poor neighborhoods have more or less the same mentality: they work endless hours and might even have up to three jobs, yet still feel trapped, with close to no improvements in their lives year after year. If we want to change our current lifestyle, he emphasized, we must not work harder, but think smarter. Our thoughts have the power of controlling us – they are our reality. We must improve our thinking, then, by expanding our knowledge, and we can do so through higher education, by staying informed and aware.
The first step to take is to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and to take action. Everyone faces obstacles on a daily basis, but instead of allowing our problems to bring us down, we must conquer them and set goals for ourselves. Just because one grew up in a poor neighborhood does not mean one has to spend the rest of his/her life in that neighborhood. We have the power to rise above, and we can succeed. This is why higher education is so important – once you obtain your degree, great opportunities will appear in front of you.
I: What did you enjoy most about the event?
E: The most rewarding thing for me was to see how inspired the students and parents were. As I was passing out tote bags, I heard the parents talking about the different kinds of financial aid and scholarships they learned about in the workshop for Spanish-speaking parents. They were so excited about it they said they would have their son/daughter sign up for scholarships as soon as they get home!
It was also amazing to see how genuinely happy and motivated students were when they had the chance to speak to college representatives at the college fair. You could tell how excited they were at the prospect of starting their college journey. For a majority of them, college was not previously seen as an option, as they did not think they were good enough, or believed they would never be able to afford it. However, by the end of the event, they all felt unstoppable, empowered, and determined that they wanted to pursue a higher education!
We would like to thank Evelin for sharing her experience and are pleased to see Destination College’s success. In addition to this signature college preparation event, the Fulfillment Fund helps students realize their highest academic potential through classroom instruction, mentoring, one-on-one college counseling, as well as experiential learning opportunities. They annually host fundraising events such as the Inspiration Breakfast, Taste of Summer, and even participated in the L.A. Marathon, to raise money to help high school students become college-ready.
For more information, please visit http://www.fulfillment.org.