Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A great gift for a college student

If you have any friends in community college, or want to spend any holiday cash you get on something for your future, I wanted to share my book with you. Community College Success was a dream I first had in the College Success class at my community college. 

We had to write down our goals, and I can remember my brain holding my hand back from writing the words "write a book" on that piece of paper. I remember a million voices telling me it was something I couldn't do. But I ignored them and wrote it down any way.

And then, it actually happened. The book exists, I swear! :)

And it's a book to help community college students do exactly what I started in that college success class - reach their dreams. 

Most community college students are up against many barriers: working full-time, taking care of a family, being the first in their family to navigate college, taking classes in their second language, not having family support to pursue education, struggling to afford transportation to and from class, or sometimes all of the above. 

While many students rise above these obstacles, the numbers are stark; too many students are being crushed by these barriers. And they are students with much to offer. They aren't dropping out because they aren't smart. They are dropping out because they are unsupported. 

My book is not magic. But I believe people are magic, and the book outlines specific strategies to encourage students to get involved and meet the people who will help them make the most of their college experience. 

You can get a free chapter of the book right now, or you can get the entire book on Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com

And, for the first time ever, I wanted to share an excerpt of the book on the blog:

       On my first day of community college, I cried like a little girl. Like so many students I’ve met since then, I didn’t want to be there. I felt alone, dejected, and lost. I also ended my community college experience with crying—on graduation when the president announced I’d won the $110,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. Dozens of people surrounded me with hugs and tears. I had friends, money, and a future. All this didn’t happen to me through luck or because I’m a super-genius (see my SAT scores). 

       The secret to success isn’t good fortune or a high IQ—it’s people. No matter how technological our world gets, the best opportunities in life will always happen through people. And the people you meet in community college will change your life. Millions of dollars in scholarships, incredible opportunities, and jobs are available to students who know how to connect with others. You deserve to be one of those students. It’s up to you to find the right people, ask for help, and admit you can’t do it alone. How do you find these people? How will you know what to say? How can you convince them to talk to you? And how does a conversation lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars and a life you can’t even imagine? I’ll show you. But first—to know where you’re going, it’s important to know where you’ve come from.

         I want to share a little about me so you’ll understand my background. As you read my story, I want you to consider your own story. Why are you in college? What barriers lie within your background? What opportunities? Only you have lived your life, and your personal story can teach you much about what holds you back, what pushes you forward, the things you value, and which problems in the world you want to fix. I grew up in a lower-middle class family and attended a high school where only 25 percent of the students go to college. My socio-economic status and family history never entered my consciousness growing up, but the year my grandpa died changed everything for me.

        After his death I learned more about how he and my grandma moved from Puerto Rico to New York before my father was born to make a better life for the Rosado family. My grandfather worked as a janitor for most of his life; my grandma was a maid. My dad made it into the open doors of community college, but never transferred to a university. He sacrificed and worked diligently as a case manager for a law firm, while my stay-at-home mom, my two younger brothers, and I lived on his income...

           And that’s why I ended up crying on the industrial carpet of my local community college. I felt so alone walking in there with my two-page application and a broken heart. This was not the idyllic college experience I imagined. I was supposed to be entering a lively freshman orientation, meeting new friends I’d have for life, picking out my classes and fresh books, and moving into the first place I could call my own. Instead, I was 15 minutes from home sitting in a small waiting room with strangers of all ages who looked as lost and alone as I felt. How did I get here?...

        My parents said I could go to college wherever I wanted. They said they would take out loans for my education because they believed in me. At the time, I was young and eager to take advantage of that offer. You may be wondering why, if I came from a low-income family, my parents were able and willing to take out loans for wherever I wanted to attend college. The truth is, they were willing—but not necessarily able. However, that didn’t stop them. I came from a family of sacrifice. And as a family that had been through hardship and gone into debt for many horrific things, they didn’t blink an eye when it came to going into debt for something good.

        When I was in high school, my younger brother, Tito, who was in seventh grade at the time, came home one day complaining of a stomach ache. The pain intensified, and when he began screaming and writhing in pain my mom rushed him to the hospital. They sent him home, saying he had food poisoning. The next morning he woke up paralyzed from the waist down from bacteria that migrated from his stomach to his spine. A few months later my second youngest brother Robby, who was four years old at the time, had a seizure, shaking and foaming at the mouth, in my parents’ bed at 4 a.m. My dad woke me up at 5 a.m., letting me know my mom had just left with my little brother in an ambulance, and for the first time I saw my father break. He cried and said, “I can’t take this anymore.” ...

        On a bright summer morning, I sat at our white kitchen table opening the mail that arrived for me. I chose to open the crisp white envelope from my new college first. Inside was my freshmen schedule. I looked at the classes I would attend in a few weeks, and then read about the fun and lively orientation activities. But with the next page, a dark cloud descended. This was the bill for my first year of college. And I’ll never forget what that number looked like, typed in small 12-point font, but so big to me.

$25,000.

In that instant, everything changed...Read the rest of the first chapter for free here or grab the book for less than $10 on Amazon.com - for a friend or for yourself. 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family!! :)

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