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Student Spotlight

Name: Brenda Vargas

Major: Childhood Education

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2019

What do you like best about college?
How much free time I have - I have less stress than I had in high school. There are a lot more resources here than in high school like Strive and other programs that reach out to you so you don’t even have to look for them. I like my Math class - it teaches me how to teach elementary kids. So instead of doing basic algebra and basic operations we learn how they do math in different countries such as the Chinese system, the Egyptian system and Mayan system. I didn’t know that would be a part of the class or that they would teach it that way but now when my friends ask me for help I'm able to teach them in different ways!

What are your plans after college?
I hope that by my second year in college I can get become a teacher’s assistant so I can start working with kindergarten students. I want to transfer to a 4 year school, hopefully Hunter, and major in childhood education and I'm excited to have some experience when I get started.

What do you wish you could have known before coming to college?
Well, I learned how they separate the FAFSA money they give you. I was nervous I wouldn’t receive any aid and I had only received 2 small checks over the summer. But then I went to Strive and they taught me that that was the book voucher and that the Pell grant isn’t given until mid-September or October!

I was surprised by how free the professors act - they’re easier to communicate with and they’re really open in helping you or sending you somewhere to receive help. In high school they just told you to study more and they told me that in college they would be a lot colder and harder on you but that’s not the case.

Know that assistance programs have a time limit for when you can sign up - I thought they were open indefinitely but it’s best to do your research beforehand.

What are some of the activities you engage in outside of school and/or work?
I play soccer on the weekends with my friends. We’re trying to get better to join the soccer team at BMCC since you need experience to be on the team. I’ve also been learning sign language - I started watching how a lot of companies don’t have many workers that speak ASL but there are more and more kids born deaf so I want to be able to offer that help in my job now, at Old Navy, and in my future work as a teacher.

What are some of your short-term goals over the next five years?
Right now I want to progress more in my part time job in retail and I'm interviewing for more job opportunities. I want to learn how to manage my money better especially now that I realize FAFSA only gives you certain amounts so I need to be able to spend it wisely. I’d also like to not be as shy, learn to speak out more.

In what ways has S4S helped you explore college and/or career opportunities that you would not have had otherwise, had you not been involved with the S4S program?

In my first week of school I was wandering around college like a lunatic. First thing S4S helped me with was my mentor walked me around the school and showed me all the different buildings. My mentor also me how to research the classes I would need for the next semester on Degree Works. Strive for Success was sort of my helping hand. All my other friends weren’t in the program and but they were in other programs that I couldn’t join so I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities I had at Strive.

Strive also helped me learn to meet new people. It’s a whole other community of friends that I have that I didn’t expect to meet.
What advice would you give to a high school student about how to succeed in college and/or the college application process?

During the application process don’t stress out or overthink the situation too much. Don’t over think about when you get the acceptance letter. Schools really do take their time so don’t stress if it’s taking a while to get your letter. Also don’t care too much about the school’s name or reputation because a lot of students stress whether they’re going to NYU or a community college and for me, it’s about the fact that you’re learning regardless of where you go.

Once you are in college definitely get a planner!! Learn how to manage your time from the beginning, don’t even think you’ll do it later just do it from the start. Really think about what time your classes are at and if you can really make it at those times. Because there’s going to be days that are harder than others and you want to make sure you can commit to what you’re doing here.

Strive for Success

199 Chambers St, Room S-637
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 346-8882

Hours of Operation:
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m