Let me introduce you to my mentee, a senior at Bell High School in Columbia Heights. Born in Ethiopia, he has lived in the U.S. with his mother since early childhood. He is a hardworking student with a passion for math and science, and through membership in the robotics club, he hopes to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. He wants to end his successful career by becoming a high school teacher. Last summer, he went to Haiti with a program called Global Kids to do volunteer work.
How did I learn all of this? Each week, we sit down and work on college applications together through an organization called Strive for College. Though I just started working with my mentee this semester, we have already developed a close relationship, which is common for Strive mentors. We become fully invested in the process, feeling difficulty and success almost as much as the student does. It is one of the highlights of my week to break out of the Georgetown bubble and drive the 20 minutes to Bell, where I am greeted by my mentee’s friendly smile. Though technically I am helping him, I have learned just as much from the experience, and this relationship is one of the core aspects of Strive for College.
Founded in 2006 by Michael Carter, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, Strive for College Collaborative has grown and expanded tremendously over the past six years. Carter established Strive for College with the notion that college students, having just gone through the college application process themselves, are the ones best prepared to assist in navigating the process. As the country’s 11th Strive chapter, Georgetown Strive for College advances Strive’s mission to ensure that every qualified, low-income high school student in the D.C. region has the information and support necessary to successfully enroll in their best-fit college. Georgetown “Strivers” focus on everything from formulating college lists, to helping students develop personal statements, to cracking the confusing code of financial aid forms. The idea behind Strive is to help students who have the potential to attend college, but might not have the resources to do so.
Strive focuses on the education gap between wealthier and lower income areas. In 2010, 400,000 low-income high school students graduated from high school and had the potential to attend college, but never did due to a lack of resources.  This statistic is even more prominent when one looks at the demographic make-up of American universities. Only 3% of students at the nation’s top 146 colleges are drawn from the lowest income quartile, while the top half of the income distribution contributes 90% of students at top colleges.  Strivers mentor aspiring high school students providing that extra push of support and assistance to help them advance confidentially into the next part of their life journey, opening the doors to limitless opportunities.