Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation’s College Success Programs continually inspire me. Our dedicated staff members help local high school students with college applications, financial aid, test prep, advising and any other college-related issues. Almost all of our students are the first generation of their families to attend college. Our staff also gives emotional support and encouragement to students to help them navigate the stresses of admissions and college life.
Raymi came to the US from the Dominican Republic when she was 8. Before she got to know the staff at CHLDC, Raymi says, she doubted her ability to go to college because she “didn’t have the money” and “there was a lack of information…I didn’t know anybody in my situation who had gone to college.” But once she came to CHLDC’s Student Success Center, she learned that her chances of attending college were very good. Raymi says her counselor “was able to find a good balance of encouraging me to try and do the best that I could and try and apply to places where I had potential.”
Now, Raymi is studying sociology at Hunter College. She also works part-time as a College Persistence Coach with our organization, helping her peers navigate the challenges of college life. One of the first students she advised was Dayana, an immigrant from Spain. About working with Raymi, Dayana says “she told me that I know that you’re in the same situation as me…I talked to her about what I was going through and she helped me.” When thinking about her own experience, Dayana reflected that “I wouldn’t be here…Without this program, I would have ended up doing whatever my family said…I didn’t know what SATs were, didn’t know about placement tests…they helped me with everything.”
Thanks to staff like Raymi, Dayana now attends Queens College, where she plans to major in psychology. She has also become a College Persistence Coach supporting students with classwork, scheduling, and financial aid help. She and Raymi love what they do because, as Raymi testifies, “it’s really rewarding…knowing that you’re an advocate for somebody.” Soon they will be the first in their immediate families to graduate from college. They both dream of using their education to help underserved, marginalized people and communities.
But there are many challenges ahead. The incoming presidential administration’s strong stance against undocumented families puts enormous stress on immigrant students. For Raymi, “the thought that I’m graduating and will probably lose my work permit a few months after graduation…I don’t know a worse way to graduate than that.” That’s why we need support from generous donors like yourself to continue advocating for fairness and equity in our national immigration and higher education policies and continue serving low-income, immigrant residents of Cypress Hills. Your year-end donation will help young people like Raymi and Dayana fulfill their potential, so please give generously today.
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation