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Growing up the idea of going to college became my escape, it was my way of getting to freedom. I went through abuse at home so I told myself I have to go to college because I didn't want to find out what life would be like if I didn't. I never considered the possibility that I wouldn't go until I started the financial aid process. I didn't know college cost so much money, and that the process to get money for college was so hard. 

There were moments when I felt like not having money would be the only thing keeping me from going to college. I knew I wouldn't be able to do it without help. The guidance counselor that helps with college planning at my high school connected me to uAspire. 

Destiny, my uAspire advisor, answered all my questions. I consider her my "college mom" because throughout the process she would never leave me in the dust. She sits with me on Zoom and responds to all my texts—she always has a solution.

When I took a year break from college Destiny was able to help me reenroll and fill out my FASFA for the second time. I probably would've dropped out if I didn't have her ongoing support.

"Being a first-generation student is a lot of pressure, but I look forward to having a louder voice in the world. My goal is to have degrees so I'll be able to speak and people will listen and take me seriously."

College and the application process helped me learn patience and that it's okay to cry while doing paperwork. Working with Destiny made me feel more confident and helped me be okay with stumbling along the way. I can't express enough how grateful I am.

It feels good to know I'm breaking generational patterns of like abuse and trauma. I get to be an example and a reminder that your past doesn't define you at all and when you get to this stage in life, it doesn't matter what your household looks like, the only thing that matters is what you put out in the world.

Zamira attends Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.