United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Student’s college dream realized with Destination: Graduation

United Way helps North Texas students like Malik excel in high school and graduate prepared for college and future success.

In fall 2013, Malik will be the first person in his family to attend college. The North Mesquite senior, who increased his SAT score thanks to Destination: Graduation, shares what he learned in the program with his younger sister and encourages her to follow in his higher-education footsteps.

Malik has long known he wanted to go to college. He just wasn’t sure what options, if any, he would have.

But by the fall of his senior year at North Mesquite High School — after more than a year in the United Way initiative Destination: Graduation — the 17-year-old had put together strong applications to several great universities, including Rice, Cornell and the University of Texas at Austin.

“I wouldn’t have been able to access those colleges without Destination: Graduation,” he says. “The program really gave me a helping hand.”

In particular, Malik gained valuable test-taking skills he used on the SAT, something he says “everybody dreads.” With knowledge he gained in Destination: Graduation, Malik saw his SAT score spike 220 points – to 2130.

“I still can’t believe it sometimes,” he admits.

He attributes his high score to hard work and “taking advantage of all the opportunities Destination: Graduation has, like the Princeton Review.”

“My parents wouldn’t have been able to afford to send me to Princeton Review, but with Destination: Graduation, I was able to get that more in-depth understanding about taking tests. They provided us with books, let us stay after school when we needed to and they provided access to computers.”

Malik also found help in the Destination: Graduation college advisory program at North Mesquite, which helps students obtain college applications, provides deadline reminders and works with students to find colleges that best suit their needs and interests.

Malik will be the first person in his family to attend college, but says he’s hopeful he won’t be the last.

“I think my younger sister is smarter than me,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve shared with her what I’ve learned in the program and really encourage her to follow my footsteps.”

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