College dreams achieved with readiness program
North Texas students like Demetria receive college readiness training to prepare for success after high school with help from United Way.
College wasn’t always a certainty for Demetria. But with help from United Way donors, she gained valuable tools and resources that helped her prepare for college. Ultimately, she earned acceptance to not one, not two, but 17 colleges.
There was a time when Demetria thought college was unattainable.
She didn’t even see herself applying.
A few years and 20 college applications later, that once out-of-reach dream is firmly within her grasp.
In fall 2012, Demetria will begin her freshman year at Sam Houston State University — one of 17 schools that accepted her.
“Going to college is something I knew I wanted — I just wasn’t sure how it was going to happen,” she says.
Then Demetria joined Uplift Education’s Road to College program, a United Way–funded college and career readiness initiative.
There she found not only valuable guidance — how to select the right college, how to apply for scholarships, how to prepare for standardized tests — but also a core unit of fellow students all driven by the same passion for advancing their education beyond high school.
She’s certain her academic experience would have been vastly different without the college readiness program.
“College wouldn’t be my focus,” she says. “I would have just had my head in the clouds.”
Lucky for Demetria, her classmates would never allow that.
“Everyone has the same goal and everyone works together to achieve it,” she says of her peers at Uplift Education Peak Preparatory. “I’m very appreciative to have this opportunity. It’s a great support system.”
In the 2011-2012 school year, the Road to College program – which received approximately 60 percent of its funding from United Way and works with students on five local campuses – helped 100 percent of its students earn college acceptance. Students also received more than $40 million in grants and scholarships.
“This would not have happened without the generosity and support of United Way,” says Denise Castañeda, Road to College coordinator for Uplift Education. “Through the generous United Way contribution, we have been able to support and guide our students to and through their college experience.”
Demetria’s support system is bolstered by the unwavering support she receives at home from her mother, Gerre — her best friend and inspiration for her college essay.
Demetria wrote about the spring day in 2011 when her mother was laid off from her job. Hit by hard times, her mother remained a rock of strength, determination and encouragement. At the time, Demetria was wrapping up her junior year of high school, but chose to obtain a part-time job to help her mom.
“She’s provided for me since I was born,” says Demetria, “I see how far we’ve come because of her.”
While leaving her mother will be hard, Demetria knows it’s necessary for her long-term success.
“I have goals and dreams and going to college prepares you for that,” says Demetria, who plans to become a teacher. “I’ll be scared and sad to leave my mom, but I know I’m leaving for a good reason.”