uAspire is important in Oakland communities like mine where a lot of kids don't know where to start or don't really have the opportunity.
Growing up we qualified as low income but we weren't completely poor, but we weren't rich. My parents left Vietnam in the middle of their life to come to the States to give me a better opportunity. They never told me, “you have to go to college,” but it was the expected next step. Honestly, deep down I knew I was going to go to college, but I also didn't want to because I hated school.
I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about how I would pay for college. I just didn't think that far ahead. No one in my immediate family had ever gone to college so I didn't know what to expect when it came to the application process. When uAspire advisors came to my classroom senior year to do a presentation I remember them saying that the program would follow you from the end of high school into college and I think that was what really pushed me to engage–I knew I needed the help.
After my mom passed away my senior year I felt a lot of pressure. I felt like it confirmed that I had to go to college. I was struggling with the idea that I didn't have a choice. Then the pandemic hit a few months later and I started struggling with my school work. I was very unmotivated and I stopped replying to my advisor's messages, but she was persistent. I was going through a lot, and she wasn't pushy, just persistent and that really benefited me in the end.
When I originally filled out my FASFA I didn't know I had to put the school I wanted to attend on the form. A week before the due date my advisor, Victoria, noticed I wasn't getting any financial aid offers and caught the mistake. UC Davis was the only school that reached out in time and I was not excited.
If I was to attend Davis I would have to live in the dorms, so I was concerned about how much I would have to pay out of pocket. Victoria made me aware of my options. She really helped me plan and go through the pros and cons. When we reviewed my financial aid offer it turned out I was not going to pay out of pocket for school expenses at all and I did not think that was possible I got very, very lucky. I felt confident and prepared going in to college knowing I would not have to struggle financially.
I am very afraid of change and doing new things, but going through the college process never felt new because I had an advisor to help me. I didn't have to be afraid of messing up. Throughout college, Victoria continued to help me with scheduling classes, reaching out to academic counselors at Davis, and taking a gap semester. When questions come up I just shoot her a text and I almost always get an answer right away. I know I really lucked out, not everyone gets to go through this process with an advisor that feels like a mentor.
There were so many moments when I felt like I wanted to give up, but didn't because I realized I have a unique opportunity and I can't waste it. College is showing me that I can stick with something and finish it. I am accomplishing something that most people in my family didn't have the opportunity to do and I hope that makes my parents proud. I look forward to graduating and getting a good job I look forward to getting enough money to move my family out of Oakland.
I am thankful for all the help and guidance because I wouldn't be here right now without it. uAspire is important in Oakland communities like mine where a lot of kids don't know where to start or don't really have the opportunity. Advisors definitely give students the tools to reach opportunities that they couldn't imagine reaching alone.