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College Success Arizona’s Mentoring and Success Program Offers Solutions

July 11th, 2018

My name is Marjorie DeRubeis, Director of Partnership Development and Success Services.

My parents, George and Gladys left Haiti, everyone they knew, everything they loved, to come to America as a young married couple. Only as an adult can I truly appreciate how difficult and frightening a journey this must have been for the young couple. My parents were not among the poorest in Haiti. Sadly, only the middle class and above could ever afford the opportunity to migrate as my parents did.  So why do it? Why give up all you know and love to go to a foreign land where you don’t even know the language? Answer: The promise of a brighter future. They understood they themselves may never fully benefit from the migration, but hopefully their children, the ones they had yet to meet, would. That is sacrifice, that is love. My parents were the lucky ones, they were plain people. Those most unfortunate in Haiti, those most oppressed by a corrupt government, those made to watch their children starve slowly in their arms, create makeshift vessels to cross the angry seas between our lands. Why do it? Answer: They do it out of desperation and a hope of survival, again for the children they have yet to meet.

I won’t lie, it was a struggle for my parents. Both working two jobs. My father went from being a math teacher to working in kitchens. He was one of the smartest men I have ever known, but doors don’t swing open, nor do arms, for those who don’t speak the language fluently, or hold the proper degrees from this country. But their hard work and sacrifice is something my siblings and I hold in deep esteem as to what hard work and dedication looks like. It’s kept me going when I faced my own challenges.

I understand the special challenges of our first-generation students, it is my story too. When I think of the support, the skills gained, the guidance our Advisory Program offers our students, I am grateful. As a first-generation student, the last thing you want is to confirm your suspicions, you don’t belong there. You may have been admitted based on the same level of merit as your fellow students, but not looking like them, not having the same background leads you to believe, you are not as good as they are. To continue the charade, you don’t ask questions, you don’t seek help, you don’t go see professors. You fly under the radar. Anything less and you may become exposed.

We all know this is no way to go through college successfully, or through life for that matter. College Success Arizona’s Mentoring and Success Program offers the answer. It provides the student the safe way to ask the questions, get the help, understand what needs to be done and how. We help students succeed. We let them know they are not alone and we are there to help them through all their challenges, academic or otherwise. This program would have meant the world to me as college student Marjorie struggled through the obstacles of the competitive arena of university. Today, I am proud to be part of the solution for many Arizona students who find themselves dealing with similar issues. We believe in them until they can believe in themselves and we keep them on the path to success.

We all have our own seas to cross, with College Success Arizona, no student has to cross their sea alone.

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