Both of my parents moved to Naples from the Bahamas and are school bus drivers. They’ve always instilled in my siblings and me the value of an education. I’ve always admired my teachers; their brightly decorated classrooms made me excited to learn new things that I would share with my brother.
Five years ago, my school counselor shared an opportunity that changed my life. My parents and I completed my application, and I was selected into Champions For Learning’s program. I was matched with my mentor Tammi, a retired teacher, and given the promise of a two-year college scholarship upon high school graduation. At first, I was nervous about meeting with my mentor, but those fears quickly diminished. As we learned more about each other, now I consider Tammi one of my closest friends.
Because of Champions For Learning and my mentor I have a clear path for my future. The weekly programming has guided me through the college and scholarship applications, helped us complete financial aid applications, and provided campus tours. Champions For Learning has been there every step of the way. Even now, with schools closed and “social distancing”, my mentor supports me through phone calls, and Champions For Learning is providing virtual sessions, webinars, and resources to ensure I stay on track during this critical time.
Today, I have served my community with more than 200 service hours, earned a 4.0+ GPA, been accepted to Florida Gulf Coast University and The University of South Florida and completed 55 scholarship applications to-date. When I graduate from high school this spring, I will also be graduating with my two-year degree from Florida SouthWestern State College and the first in my family to earn a degree. Through Champions For Learning, my community has shown they believe in me, and my teachers, and want us all to succeed.
When I close my eyes, I can already see my classroom, I know where each board will be and what will be on them, how my students’ desks will be arranged, and how I will use what I’ve learned from my own teachers. I want every student to have the same opportunities that I have.
I’m proud to live in a community that is united around supporting educators and I want to become a teacher so that I can impact students and give back to my community.
~Alaysha G., senior at Golden Gate High School, dual enrolled at Florida Southwestern State College