Written by: Joy Alcantara, College Adviser for East Duplin High in Duplin County
Imagine a world where every student had the same opportunity to attend college.
Some might argue that technically every student does have access to the same educational opportunities, but what about those who cannot afford college or do not know how to even begin to navigate the college application process? What about the student who has always believed they would never be more than society’s labels? The student who never had someone to tell them otherwise or give them words of encouragement?
Each of these situations puts barriers on a student’s ability to grab hold of the opportunity to attend college. Not everyone begins at the same starting point and not everyone has the same path. This inequity is the reason why I chose to become a college adviser. I believe every student deserves more than the opportunities they are given, that they are more than labels and what they might think of themselves. I believe in an equitable education system and I am proud to be a part of an organization that is trying to accomplish that.
Although I am passionate about my job, it is certainly not easy. There are days that are very difficult and it can sometimes be draining. It is during these days that I have to remind myself of my “why.” Being a first generation, low-income, and underrepresented student, I know how overwhelming and intimidating the college process can be. I was lucky to have parents who motivated me every step of the way despite the language barrier and their lack of knowledge and resources. I advise because everyone deserves an equal chance to attain higher education. I want all my students and my community to know they have the option to attend college.
While it might not always be easy, my students are worth it. They are wonderful and capable of doing anything they set their minds to. Sometimes, they just need a little push and for someone to believe in them.