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. m. My advisor, Victoria, noticed I wasn't getting any financial aid offers and caught the mistake. She made me aware of my options and helped me plan. When we reviewed my financial aid offer from UC Davis it turned out I wasn’t going to pay out of pocket for school expenses at all and I didn’t think that was possible.
Throughout college, Victoria helped me with scheduling classes, reaching out to academic counselors, and taking a gap semester. When questions come up, I just shoot her a text and get an answer right away. I’m lucky to go through this process with an advisor who is like a mentor.
I’m thankful for all the 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. Advisors give students the tools to reach opportunities that they couldn't imagine reaching alone.
Michelle attends University of California, Davis.