We are excited to share the news about one of our Service Starts with Summer Program (3SP) students, Marilynn Miguel!
See article here.
Harvard-bound student offering to help teens achieve their college dream
Marilynn Miguel, a Vineland High senior, talks to The Daily Journal about her Harvard University acceptance. Adam Monacelli, Vineland Daily Journal
VINELAND – Before Vineland High School Class of 2019 grad Marilynn Miguel starts Harvard University in a few weeks, her goal is to put other Cumberland County teens on the path to their dream colleges.
During a recent visit to her new university, Harvard unveiled a new community outreach initiative — Service Starts with Summer — encouraging incoming freshmen to implement service projects in their hometowns.
“I immediately knew I wanted to do something with college preparation because I had so much help,” Miguel said, noting the support she received through connections she made with organizations while taking advantage of educational opportunities.
When she was a sixth-grader, Miguel wrote down her goals, including a section on how to get into Harvard. She checked that off her to-do list when she received a full scholarship to the Ivy League school worth about $80,000 per year.
Drawing upon her own experience as a first-generation college student coming from an economically challenged community, she developed a two-day mentorship program to help get students over their hurdles to higher education.
Harvard funded 50 of the proposals submitted by eligible freshmen.
Vineland High School Class of 2018 graduate Marilynn Miguel, who starts Harvard University at the end of the month, is hosting at two-day 'bootcamp' to help teens try to achieve their college dreams. (Photo: Deborah M. Marko)
“And I’m one of them,” she said, referring to her $1,500 stipend.
The free college preparation program will be held in two sessions running 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 13 and Aug. 15 at Vineland High School South and has the support of her former principal.
"I continue to be so impressed by Marilynn's passion and dedication to Vineland High School,” VHS Principal Suzette DeMarchi said. “We are so excited she chose to focus her efforts on helping all Cumberland County high schoolers pursue higher education.
“This opportunity is a first for VHS,” DeMarchi said. “It demonstrates the character, passion, and drive our students have within them.”
Set for Aug. 13, the agenda focuses on what is possible with speakers, panel discussions and a college fair. All high school students are welcome, no registration required.
Miguel’s theme is inspiration with a Princeton University admissions officer on the program.
According to the NJ School Performance Report, 61.9 percent of VHS Class of 2018 graduates enrolled in college, where the state average is 77.9 percent. Of those VHS students, less than 30 percent enrolled in a four-year institution.
During the mentoring program, about three dozen recent high school graduates will share their “what I wish I had known” insights on financial aid, interviews and college applications.
“We all wish that we had this type of program,” Miguel said, of her colleagues’ support. Joking, she added, “It will be really fun to be able to pass on the knowledge, especially now that we are recently scarred — it’s fresh in our minds.”
Learning of her program, the Hispanic Advisory Board of Rowan College of South Jersey asked to participate.
“That was absolutely amazing, I’m very, very, thrilled,” she said.
Miguel also lined up experts to address DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as youngsters, as well as minority recruitment.
More than 125 colleges from just about all 50 states will be represented.
“Our students don’t have the means to visit their school of choice out of state, so hopefully this will help them be more aware of all the wonderful colleges available to them,” she said. Students “can literally go shopping for colleges.”
“I want to bring as much information as I can here because before I started my college application process, I only visited three colleges because I didn’t have the funds to visit any other colleges,” she said.
Parents are encouraged to attend and the program is bilingual.
“The college application is a family process,” Miguel said. “Regardless of their background, students need to be supported by their parents, and the parents by the students.”
This Aug. 15 program is exclusively for incoming high school seniors and their parents.
Registration is required for the one-to-one “boot camp” so Miguel can match participants to volunteers and computer access.
Students will be setting up their Common Application to apply to more than 800 colleges and universities and creating Free Application for Federal Student Aid IDs to apply for grants, work-study and loans. Parents will need to provide income information to complete the applications.
“Come in with college application lists, or you can come in knowing nothing,” Miguel said. “We will sit down and walk you through one-by-one.”
Miguel knows how she will measure the program’s success.
“By the number of students who say that this helped,” she said, hoping other will share her joy of achieving a goal.
“I don’t how to react when people say, “You’re moving up,’” she said, noting her path isn’t changing who she is. “This just feels like Harvard is trying to unlock potential that is there.”
Her college prep program is an attempt to share that with others and help them discover their own possibilities.
“It’s exciting,” she said, “Honestly, this has been so much fun.”
So many people volunteered to help, Miguel may not need to spend all of Harvard’s money.
But she plans to ensure it all goes to help a new class of college-bound graduates, giving what funds remain to the VHS guidance department should "any other student wants to pick-up this project, do this again.”
For any questions, contact Miguel at 1952963mmiguel.vineland.org.