Leslie Suarez, a graduate from Trenton Central High School’s Class of 2022, has defied the odds and achieved remarkable success with the help of Millhill Youth Engagement Services. Despite the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie’s involvement in the PEERS Program during her junior year paved the way for her triumph over various obstacles.
Entering her senior year, Leslie faced concerns from her supportive parents regarding the college application and acceptance process. Worries about her choice of college, living on campus, spreading herself too thin, and the general anxieties all parents face when sending their children to school loomed large. Complicating matters further, Leslie’s parents, who only spoke Spanish, encountered language barriers while working with Leslie’s support team, adding to their anxiety.
Moreover, Leslie found herself in a challenging position where she was ineligible for financial aid due to unforeseen circumstances.
Fortunately, Millhill Youth Engagement collaborates with WiseUp, a non-profit organization deeply invested in the Trenton community. Together, through the PEER program, WiseUp staff members work closely with students like Leslie throughout their junior and senior years of high school, guiding them through the college exploration and application process. Leslie received invaluable support from Kevin and Janet at WiseUp and Micayla Weissburg from Millhill, ensuring her journey through the college application process was well-guided.
To bolster her efforts, Leslie was paired with Cathy Schader Batterman as her mentor and received assistance from Debbie Meola with her college essay writing during her junior year.
Leslie’s exceptional dedication and hard work paid off when she was accepted into the TCNJ Bonner Scholars program. This prestigious program comprises a diverse group of over 80 students who commit to completing 300 hours of service and training while receiving a need-based tuition scholarship to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
Currently a freshman at TCNJ, Leslie is pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. Leveraging the life skills she acquired during her time at Millhill and the guidance of her mentors, she achieved an impressive 4.0 GPA in her first semester. Additionally, Leslie is an Americorp student through the TCNJ AmeriCorps program, allowing her to collaborate with community-based organizations and address important issues such as college access, food security, job skills development, and youth literacy. Her active involvement on campus has enabled her to establish a vibrant community and thrive academically and personally.
Leslie’s story is just one of many inspiring tales that illustrate the determination required to help a single student gain admission to college. The Millhill partnership with WiseUp has transformed the daunting task of college preparation into an accessible and manageable process. Through this partnership, our youth receive coaching, mentoring, and the vital support needed to stay on track, while also gaining access to the technical and financial knowledge offered by WiseUp. This collaborative effort is instrumental in guiding our students toward successful college experiences.
Join us in supporting students like Leslie on their educational journey. Your generous donation will help us continue providing critical resources and opportunities to underserved youth, ensuring their path to higher education remains within reach. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of aspiring students. Donate today and help shape a brighter future.