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2014-2015 Mentors

Name Year Hometown Name Year Hometown
Servet Bayimli 2016 San Francisco, CA Dakota Meredith 2017 Bensalem, PA
Lauren Benjamin 2017 Brooklyn, NY Aleks Merkovich 2017 Queens, NY
Kari-Elle Brown 2015 Deltona, FL Rachel Nghe 2016 San Francisco, CA
Thais Calderon 2017 Silver Spring, MD Tia Robinson 2017 Brooklyn, NY
Destiny Casillas 2015 Orange County, CA Francheska Santos 2015 Bronx, NY
Erika Chavez 2016 San Diego, CA Kat Schweitz 2017 Los Angeles, CA
Jesse Chou 2015 Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Marina Tassi 2017 Bridgeport, CT
Samanta English 2017 Brooklyn, NY Ralph Washington 2016 Harlem, NY
Lisa Hsiao 2016 College Station, TX Christin Washington 2017 Brooklyn, NY
Ha Ram Hwang 2017 Sand Diego, CA Tierra Wilkins 2016 Wilmington, NC
John Kim 2015 Cypress, CA Stephanie Yang 2016 Fort Lee, NJ
Caroline Kinsley 2017 Tempe, AZ Camille Youngblood 2015 Milwaukee, WI
Zixi (George) Liang 2017 Westmont, IL Lawrence Yu 2015 Brooklyn, NY
Juan Llamas 2016  Los Angeles, CA      

 

Name: Servet Bayimli   (abroad 2014-2015)
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High school attended: Brooklyn Technical High School
Major (or potential major): Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought; Psychology
Activities on campus: Student Government (AAS), Diversity Intern, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, Girls Inc. of Holyoke, Community Engagement Orientation (CEOT) Trip Leader
Hobbies: Cooking, traveling, writing, playing volleyball, doing magic tricks

Although I often exaggerate things, I think it’s fair to say that the college process was one of the most stressful periods of my life. I attended New York City’s largest public high school, and with that, I received little individual attention throughout the college process. I began my search in May of my junior year by asking teachers where they would see me as a good fit, and why. During that time I also filled out surveys that asked me questions about school size, interests, and test grades, which gave me suggestions of colleges. That summer, after tons of research, I narrowed down to a solid select list. Because not that many adults were there for me during this process, I had to follow the crowd, mimicking what my friends were doing. For example, I started my supplements after I heard my friends had started theirs. My former U.S. History teacher suggested I look at liberal arts colleges because of my activities in school – it was something I had never considered, especially because my high school never afforded me any kind of flexibility in pursuing my own academic interests. After I finalized my list, it was time for the all too often underestimated portion of the application – the essay. I didn’t realize how important it was until I sat down with a teacher for an edit and learned that it could actually make or break an application. I must have gone through over 15 drafts simply trying to figure out what to write about. After I decided on a topic, putting my ideas on paper in a clear and concise manner took hours. Several drafts later, I was ready with a piece I was proud of. Before I knew it, January rolled around and the applications were in.

I thought that was it with the process; that I would just wait a couple of weeks and I would get responses and that would be that. I was mistaken. The financial aid portion of the college process started. Although it wasn’t as stressful as writing essays or taking exams, it was a very meticulous process. It made me feel like I was never going to get any financial aid and that I would be drowning in debt even after two years. I was (gladly) proven wrong and college seemed like a financially attainable goal after all. When decisions began coming in, it was a good time – regardless of the outcomes. It meant that the process was over and that I could finally breathe. I then had the tough choice of choosing schools that chose me – and here I am at Amherst College.

After all of this, all I can say is that things always have a way of working themselves out with the college process.


Lauren Benjamin

Name: Lauren Benjamin
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High school attended: Miss Porter's School, Farmington, CT
Major (or potential major): Russian; Sociology/English
Activities on campus:Gospel Choir, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Badminton, Black Student's Union,  Reader to Reader, Center for Community Engagement
Hobbies: Working out, volunteering, creative writing, nail art, reading, squash, badminton, foreign languages, singing, eating

The college process for me, as it is for thousands of high schoolers each year, was a long journey of confusion, doubt, stress, and sometimes disappointment. Amidst all of those sentiments, however, the adjectives hopeful, happy, and rewarding also come to mind. I was fortunate enough to attend a small private boarding school with a graduating class of 77. This condition allotted me more than sufficient attention and care from my college guidance counselor. I am also a member of the 10th class of the TEAK Fellowship, a community organization for high-achieving, low-income, NYC students. As it had done during my high school application process, TEAK greatly assisted me throughout my college admissions process by providing me standardized test prep help, interview practices, funded college visits, and a counselor whose knowledge and expertise in the particular area I could rely on. Both TEAK and my high school were definitely instrumental in helping me navigate the application to twelve schools and further on, in choosing the right fit for me after I received ten admissions offers. I ultimately narrowed this list down to three schools, all of which I visited in April of senior year. I chose Amherst College because of the five-college consortium, its incomparable diversity, unquestionable educational reputation, commitment to making college affordable for all applicants, and the testaments of success that three of its alumni, whom I know, offer. After a year here, I am very confident that I made the right choice.


Name: Kari-Elle Brown
Kari-Elle
 
Hometown: Deltona, FL
High school attended: Pine Ridge High School
 
Major (or potential major): Anthropology; Asian Languages and Civilizations
Activities on campus: Amherst Symphony Orchestra, Amherst Flute Choir, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Quest Scholars Network
Hobbies: Writing and editing, performing, exploring, Zumba Fitness

Up until my senior year of high school, I was sure that I would be attending college in my home state, most likely at the flagship state school, University of Florida (Go Gators!). I later learned about QuestBridge, which introduced me to the possibility of attending an elite institution. While I was applying to schools, I was encouraged to “ignore the price tag” if a school really interested me; I was assured that financial aid was aplenty (it really was). I was very fortunate to be able to visit a large number of schools in the Northeast and Midwest in the fall of my senior year; if it is possible, I recommend it. With all of these choices, I started to become increasingly picky about where I wanted to attend: Did I want a large or small school? Did I want to be in a city? Is gothic architecture really awesome or just creepy?

An overnight stay at Amherst College solidified my decision to attend here (again, I recommend visiting campuses). The most valuable advice I have is do not panic or freak out during admissions season. Take your time with your applications (read: give yourself enough time by not procrastinating), and really think about what you want, rather than what you’re willing to settle for. Relax. You will go to college, and it will be awesome.


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Name: Thais Calderon
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD 
High school attended: James Hubert Blake High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience; Spanish
Activities on campus: DASAC, Amherst Dance, Project Salud, EDU
Hobbies: Dance, running, and Netflix

I’m the kind of person that likes to have things structured, to know where I am and know exactly where I’m headed. The college application process had other plans for me, it left me uncertain and confused for periods of time and for others I was just anxious. I didn’t understand FAFSA and then CSS came out of nowhere. Luckily I had someone to guide me through the process who was my telementor and with their help the college process became more like a box of surprises that still left me uncertain just not as confused.

My guidance counselor introduced me to Questbridge my junior year and it was the one of the best things that could have happened to me. With the support of my telementor and counselor, I was able to get through the college process and feel confident in my application. I was offered acceptance to great schools and offered very generous financial aid to all of them (thanks to Questbridge) so the choice was all mine. I chose Amherst because it embodied what I wanted from a higher education institution and it has produced ambitious, active, and bold minds; something I want to be when I graduate. I am very thankful and I feel lucky to have had the kind of college application process that I did (it could have gone terribly wrong, trust me) and I hope to be as helpful and comforting as the people in my experience were.


Kassandra

Name: Destiny Casillas
Hometown: Orange County, CA
High school attended: Santa Ana High
Major (or potential major): Psychology; History
Activities on campus: La Causa, Project Sunshine
Hobbies: Reading, baking, dancing, sewing

College was always something that I planned on experiencing. However, I didn’t want to go to a community college, which for many of my peers was the only option. Nor did I want to go to a Cal State or a UC. They are great schools, but I wanted to experience something completely beyond my comfort zone.

Did I know what I had to do to get into college? I had a general idea. Did I know how to go about accomplishing those things? No. Did I know what college I wanted to attend? Well, I knew what I wanted to get from college, but I had no clue if my dream college even existed.  

Throughout high school I tried everything that I thought and knew could help me get into my dream college. They were four hectic, constantly changing and confusing years. But I was fortunate to have a family that supported my decisions and helped me in whatever they could. I was a part of amazing programs that helped guide me and make sense of everything I was doing. These programs introduced me to Amherst College as well as many other amazing schools that are pretty much off the grid. It is because of my family, friends and mentors that I was able to find and attend such an amazing college that has become a second home for me. I cherish these people because without them I would not have been able to answer those crucial questions. I too want to assist students through that final journey so that they can find a school as amazing as Amherst is for me.


Name: Erika Chavez
Hometown: San Diego, CA
High school attended: The Preuss School
Major (or potential major): Undecided
Activities on campus: Girls Inc. Tutor, La Causa, Careers in Education Professions Program
Hobbies: Reading, watching movies

 Being a first-generation student I did not have much help going into the college application process. Luckily, I attended a school that did a good job at helping students find the school that fit their needs. Applying to college is difficult because there are so many things to take into consideration. What do you want to study? Do they help with financial aid? Can you handle snow? Having someone to talk through these problems with was what helped me find a college at which I am now very happy.

When applying to colleges, I knew that I wanted a small school on the East Coast, which made it easier for me to narrow down my search. Finding Amherst was like finding the missing piece to a puzzle: I knew that this was the place where I wanted to spend my next 4 years. I know that without the help of counselors and mentors I would not have thought of Amherst as a possibility, so I look forward to being that guiding voice for someone else. 


Jesse

Name: Jesse Chou
Hometown: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
High school: Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
Major (or potential major): Biochemistry
Activities on campus: Vela Scholars, GlobeMed, Questbridge, Rowing, Amherst Christian Fellowship
Hobbies: Biking on the Bird Sanctuary trail, Outing Club trips, badminton, loitering in the Q-center

Coming from Southern California, I had initially set my sights on the Universities of California mainly for financial reasons. Cost was a huge decision factor for me, but after learning more about the financial aid process, I learned it didn't have to be the be-all end-all reason. There were top schools like Amherst that didn't care whether you rode a Chevrolet or your Chevrolegs; they would pick up the tab, or at least however much they had to in order for you to come. I hadn't known about programs like QuestBridge or need-blind, full need schools until I tried to navigate the convoluted process my senior year. The process of applying to college, applying for financial aid, picking a college, and deciphering what your financial aid package can be daunting for sure. My high school counselor had been the one to help me fill out the FAFSA and tell me about opportunities like QuestBridge. I realize I was lucky to have that voice in my own life, and want to be that for someone else as well.


Samanta 

Name: Samanta English
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
High school attended: Teachers Preparatory High School
Potential Major (or potential major): English; Theater and Dance
Activities on campus: Community Engagement Leader and Tutor for Girls Incorporated of Holyoke, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Program Board, Quest Scholars Network, Intramural Volleyball
Hobbies: Reading, creative writing, listening to music, playing volleyball, acting

As student from a public high school in a low-income neighborhood, I had never heard of liberal arts colleges like Amherst and neither had anyone at my school besides a few teachers. By junior year, I figured I would attend a state school upstate since I knew I would be accepted there and there was a slim chance I could get into an Ivy League school. Then, a teacher told me about QuestBridge, a program that provides opportunities for high-achieving, low-income students. I received the College Prep Scholarship and went to Yale for a conference that introduced me to a plethora of private colleges I had never heard of. I learned that my economic status should not stop me from applying to "expensive" private schools and that I can and should apply to those schools. I had no outside preparation for the SAT, no way of visiting any schools outside of New York City, and no help from my parents, but I applied to the College Match Scholarship and matched with Amherst. So, my advice to students entering the college application process is to not limit yourself because there are so many opportunities out there that you may not know about. Look beyond the schools in your community, learn about the liberal arts schools you may not have considered so far, and expand your outlook.


Lisa Hsiao

Name: Lisa Hsiao
Hometown: College Station, Texas
High school attended: A&M Consolidated High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience
Activities on campus: Equestrian, Tour Guide, Reading Mentor, Music Department Usher, Amherst Christian Fellowship
Hobbies:  Knitting, crafting, stargazing, reading, baking, playing the harp

Coming from a large public high school, I had very little college admissions guidance. I had no college counselor, and no tutoring for the SAT or ACT. No one read over my admissions essays, and no one helped me fill out my FAFSA, but somehow I was admitted to Amherst. 

Now I'm a prospective Neuroscience major hoping to pursue a career in medicine, although I'm planning to explore many of the other extensive options here at Amherst thanks to the open curriculum. From the beautiful fall foliage and the breathtaking view from Memorial Hill to the incredible students and staff, I am continually amazed and humbled by all that Amherst has to offer. With such gifted students from all around the world, I learn just as much from my peers and their experiences as I do from my professors in my classes, and I know that it is only through the help of others that I am able to call myself an Amherst student today. I am so thankful for the opportunities I've been given here at Amherst, and I hope to use what I've been given to bless others. 


Ha Ram Hwang

Name: Ha Ram Hwang
Hometown: San Diego, CA
High school attended: Del Norte High School
Major (or potential major): Sociology
Activities on campus:  Health Collaborative, Terras Irradient (A Cappella), DBJ Five College Dance, ACEMS, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Reader to Reader
Hobbies:Val sitting, baking

The college application process was a tough one--I am a first-generation Asian-American and my relatives had never attempted to diverge from the community college route. Having been very active and motivated in high school, I knew I wanted to take a chance, but I had no idea how to do it. It wasn't until senior year that I began scrambling to take SATs and ACTs, while applying for too many colleges that I had no idea about. I also had no idea about the financial aid process so I spent countless hours trying to understand how I was going to afford college--that is, if I was going to make it at all. It wasn't until I received my acceptances and heard about my peers' experiences that I finally sat down to do critical research in order to narrow down my choices. It is then I learned about the generous financial policy of Amherst College and the differences between large universities and liberal arts colleges. Thanks to my lonely struggle, however, I now know how to navigate the system and hope to prevent others from stumbling into the same confusing journey that I took my senior year.


John

Name: John Kim
High school attended: Oxford Academy
Hometown: Cypress, CA
Major (or potential major): Biology; Math
Activities on campus: Zumbyes, Reader to Reader

Applying to college was an interesting experience for me. As a first -generation college student, I had a hazy idea of how to apply and what it would be like. I didn't know what to expect or work toward. My adviser at my high school left at the beginning of senior year, so I didn't have a very personal relationship with my counselor. The process was long and arduous, and I felt like I would be rejected from everywhere at times, but I pushed through, on my own, and ended up at Amherst! It was scary when I was waiting for those college acceptance letters to roll in, and I wish there had been someone to tell me to relax and enjoy my senior year. I joined Telementoring because I feel like many high school seniors could use a little reassurance, like I did


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Name: Caroline Kinsley
Hometown: Tempe, AZ
High school attended: Tempe Preparatory Academy
Major (or potential major): Classics
Activities on campus: Choral Society, Women’s Chorus, Book Conservation at Frost Library, Classics Club
Hobbies: Reading, Knitting, Sewing, and Painting

While applying to college, I had very little support from my family. As a result, while I knew what I wanted in a college, I had no idea how to go about applying. Luckily, I had the privilege of attending a small liberal arts school that was able to offer me much needed guidance. I made a list of characteristics I wanted in a college (small, liberal arts college with good financial aid on the east coast) and brought it to my college counselor. She directed me towards QuestBridge, and from there I researched each of its partner colleges. After finding the ones that interested me, I made a short list and applied to those through QuestBridge’s National College Match. Through hard work and the support of my college counselor, I matched with Amherst College!

My college application process was long, stressful, and difficult, but I learned a lot about the process. I would love to be able to take this experience and use it to help others find the right colleges for them.


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Name: Zixi (George) Liang
Hometown: Westmont, IL
High school attended: Hinsdale Central High School
Major (or potential major): Mathematics
Activities on campus: IT, Olio Yearbook, Mock Trial, Film Society
Hobbies: Reading, photography, movies, sledding down Memorial Hill

I had the privilege of attending an excellent college prep school in one of Chicago’s western suburbs, but even with the wealth of resources I had, college applications were extremely complicated and time-consuming. Despite all the help you may or may not receive – from counselors, parents, even friends – looking for, applying to, and choosing a college is ultimately a personal process, and it is up to you to make that final decision. While a large number of students in my graduating class simply chose to attend the local community college or the state university, I spent countless hours reading guidebooks, browsing through online college forums, and just sitting around having debates in my head. In the end, choosing Amherst was a due to a combination of several factors, including a gut feeling that the school was “the right choice,” but it was a visit during the Diversity Open House Weekend that finalized my decision. After a year here, I can say that I do not regret my decision one bit. And I am here to – hopefully – help you make that decision. 


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Name: Juan Llamas
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High school attended: Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience
Activities on campus: La Causa, Quest Scholars, The EDU

I was the first person in my family to attend college and so the college search and application process was completely new to me. I attended a relatively small magnet school in Los Angeles, California. My schooldid the best that it could in order to help the students with college applications, but because there were so many of us, in-depth and personal help was not readily available. Besides that, most of our counselors focused on guiding students into attending one of the California state schools, such as the University of California and Cal State schools, where most of our student body ended up.

Fortunately for me, I heard about the QuestBridge program and was also able to get help from resources outside of my school. Through QuestBridge, I learned about and applied to many schools that I would not have heard about otherwise. Without programs such as this one, I would not have heard about Amherst College and would not be here now. The resources I used outside of school were a great help and I do not know what I would have done without them. I realize that many students do not have the same resources available to them, which is why I want to assist them. I hope to be an asset in their search for their ideal college and an important resource in their lives throughout the application process.


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Name: Dakota Meredith
Hometown: Bensalem, PA
High school attended: Archbishop Wood High School
Major (or potential major): Biology; English
Activities on campus: Rhythm & Shoes musical theater Treasurer, Charles Drew Pre-Health society, Pride Alliance, Colleges Against Cancer
Hobbies: Reading, dancing, singing, yoga

When the time came to apply for college, I had no idea of what kind of school I wanted to attend. I knew I would prefer to stay on the East Coast, and I knew I wanted some of the independence associated with moving away from home, but that was all I had on my checklist. My high school advisor was nice enough and was able to assist me in some of the financial aid process, but she had hundreds of other students and couldn’t do much to help me think about the big questions. Would a smaller or larger school be better for me? Did I want my college to be better known for its English department or its science program? Should I live in the city, or should I look somewhere more isolated? As a result, my college list was long and very scattered.

I also didn’t feel comfortable talking to my advisor or my family about the stresses and insecurities that come part and parcel with the college application process. It was incredibly nerve-racking to know that ultimately my decision would come down to who was able to give me the best financial aid package. And when I was rejected from the school I had applied to through Early Decision, I was crushed. It took a lot of effort for me to be able to move on and work on applications for other schools. In the end I discovered Amherst, and although the situation was such that I had to accept their admission offer without the benefit of visiting first, since then things have worked out fantastically. I’ve found a home at Amherst, and I’d like to help you find the same perfect fit. I also want to help you be more organized and decisive than I was, even though eventually things worked out for me. And last but not least, as a Telementor I want to be there to talk to you through this incredibly stressful process.


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Name: Aleks Merkovich
Hometown: Queens, NY  
High school attended: Stuyvesant High School
Major (or potential major): Psychology
Activities on campus: Route 9 (a cappella), Glee Club, Judiciary Council (student government), Student Security, Reader to Reader Inc., Outing Club, Resident Counselor
Hobbies: Photography, listening to music, walking

As a child of immigrants and part of the first generation of my family to go to college, I had to rely heavily on outside sources to help me find and apply to college. My parents knew very few colleges outside of Ivy Leagues and state schools, and everyone else in my family had attended a state or city university. Luckily, my school had lots of resources to help with the process, including college trips, college fairs, and college representatives come and talk to us. We also got to sit down with individual college counselors who would help us with our search. The QuestBridge program ultimately is what expanded my college application pool, allowing me to apply to tons of great schools I had never even heard of before! That's even how I found Amherst. When I was applying, I originally didn't think a small liberal arts college was for me, but visiting the school really made a difference. If there's one thing I learned through the application process, it's that visiting a school is super important; it can determine whether or not you apply - or even attend! - a certain school.


Name: Rachel Nghe (abroad Fall 2014)
Hometown: San Francisco, California
High school attended: Lowell High School
Major (or potential major): Political Science; Asian Languages and Civlizations
Activities on campus: Crew, Equestrian, Mock Trial, Multicultural Resource Center
Hobbies: Basketball, watching movies, knitting and crocheting, baking

As a first-generation college student who attended a competitive public high school, I never doubted attending college once I graduated--the question was what kind of college. The resources I had came from my counselor and teachers, the College and Career Center, friends, and online websites, all of which gave me very limited insight into the colleges I applied to. In fact, other than the colleges that were well within reach of a travel budget, I did not visit any schools outside of California during my search. This included Amherst College, which I never stepped foot on until orientation week as a first year student. 

I had never heard about Amherst College until the end of the junior year, when I realized a role model from my school attended there. Fortunately, I was able to contact her and obtain information about the pros and cons of small liberal arts colleges, which certainly prompted my interest and application. When I received college letters, I was deciding between a large university 30 minutes away from my home or a small town college 3000 miles away from home. My ultimate decision was risky, and I chose to leave my comfort zone to attend Amherst College, a decision I never regret taking. It took time and effort to adapt to the culture shock, but I am glad to have taken this risk to learn about myself and about a world outside of my community. As a Telementor, I hope to offer advice to those making tough decisions, and counsel those who, like me, do not have the necessary resources to know about the college application process, and push those rising high school seniors to make preparations early for critical life changes.


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Name: Tia Robinson
Hometown:Brooklyn, NY
High school attended: The Kew-Forest School
Major (or potential major): Political Science; Asian Civilizations and Languages
Activities on campus: The Amherst Student, Black Student Union, Campus Activities Board
Hobbies: Traveling, Reading, Writing, Listening to music  

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would attend college, however I had no idea how the college process worked. My mother went to a nearby college, so we didn’t know much about how to apply for college, not to mention deciding on which one would be a good fit. I was completely clueless about how rough the college process was. I followed what my fellow classmates were doing and started my college search early, thank goodness! However, because I was just following along, I had no idea if what I was doing was correct or necessary. This is where having a great support system kicked in. I actually had two college counselors, one from my high school and one from a program called Prep for Prep. My Prep for Prep counselor could sense my uncertainty and fear, so she suggested that I first decide where I wanted to go college. My mother and I had some disagreements about how far I would be able to go, but after some reassuring, she decided that I needed to pick what was best for me. Then I decided whether I wanted to go to a large state college or a small liberal arts college. I was open to both options until I realized that a small liberal arts college would provide me with more specialized attention and support. I was still pretty indecisive and I ended up applying to 11 colleges, Amherst being one of them.

After my acceptance letters rolled in, my counselors were still accessible to help me with financial questions and final decisions. Financial aid may be the toughest part of the college process! My counselors were always there to help me and it gave me the encouragement that I needed. I choose to attend Amherst because of its rigorous curriculum, diversity and sense of community.

I became a Telementor because I wanted to give another student the support system that I received during my college process. I want to give back the reassurance and help that I was given. College applications and financial aid may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little help it can be very manageable!


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Name: Francheska Santos
Hometown:  Bronx, NY
High school attended:  The Bronx High School of Science
Major (or potential major):  American Studies
Activities on campus:  Black Students Union, Women of Amherst, Girls Inc. of Holyoke
Hobbies:  Reading travel blogs and the occasional young adult novel, Netflix

At a lack for better words, the college process was a highly confusing one. The first day I opened the Common Application website I panicked. I know how difficult it can be for students who don't have any immediate resources to go through the college process on an individual basis. Coming from a high school with approximately 3000 students and 750 graduating seniors, I couldn't get the one-to-one attention I needed to help me navigate the complicated journey that is the college process. For these reasons, I decided to become a telementor! As I enter my final year in college, I can sympathize with those entering their last year in high school. It is a troubling time with a somewhat uncertain future which is why I hope to alleviate the anxiety created by the college process through guidance and what I hope is useful advice on how to successfully complete solid college applications.

Amherst College was my first choice school and I was fortunate enough to be admitted through the QuestBridge program. I hope to help you find the tools you need in terms of scholarships and programs as well as the resources to complete meaningful applications so that you too can achieve your goals and aspirations as you begin the college process.


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Name: Katarina Schweitz
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
High school attended: Rosary High School (All-Girls Catholic Prep)
Major (or potential major): Psychology
Activities on campus:Women of Amherst, Book & Plow Farm, Campus Security
Hobbies: Hiking, cooking and baking, traveling, dancing to Britney Spears and dubstep

When diving into the college application process all I knew was that I wanted to get out of California and explore the New England area, as my father lives in the south, so I felt I had a good idea of life down there. My options remained limited as my financial status could not support all my wishes. Luckily, my high school counseling program explained the Questbridge scholarship to me and for the next three weeks up until the app was due, I worked diligently to match with a partner school. And what do you know - I matched with Amherst and now have the opportunity to assist others like me! I've always had a solidified plan: go to college, major in psychology, and eventually get my law degree so I can start a career of serving justice! While factors such as grades, standardized test scores, recommendations and other erudite forms of application, I emphasize the important to understand that while you must meet a school's needs, they must meet your's too. I hope to work with individuals to find the best college that allows them to develop their own personal sense of identity and foundation. This way, students can combine their mind and heart and realize their full potential as students and as individuals in this world.


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Name: Marina Tassi
Hometown: Bridgeport, CT 
High school attended: Central magnet high school
Major (or potential major): Economics
Activities on campus: Vela Scholars
Hobbies: Running, Blogging, Piano, Acting

My College Search: I come from a large urban city in southern Connecticut. Although I've had some fantastic teachers and great opportunities, the resources at my school were limited, especially the guidance in the college search process. I want to make sure everyone gets to lead with their best foot and have more confidence in the decisions they make throughout the college application process. Information is power.


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Name: Ralph Washington
Hometown: Harlem, NY
High school attended: Cristo Rey New York High School
Major (or potential major): Economics
Activities on campus: Campus center manager and Beneski museum monitor
Hobbies: Running, videogames, talking with friends

The college application and selection process can seem extremely daunting. Luckily for me, I had a lot of help along the way. Although I was aware that I was attending a college preparatory high school, I did not really begin thinking about college until the latter part of my high school career. I had never spoken to family or friends about college. My main focus was just getting good grades and playing a lot of Xbox. My junior year, however, my school announced that the junior class would be going on a “college road trip” for three days to visit a bunch of different colleges. That trip is what made me enthused about the college process.

I applied to seventeen schools in total. That’s a bit cool to say, but in reality it was a mess. My list consisted of schools I knew I wanted to go to, safety schools, schools my college counselor thought I’d fit into, schools I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting into, and even schools that I wasn’t really interested in but had a cool school color or mascot so I decided to try my luck (Northwestern, I’m thinking about you…). Although I knew I wanted to go to a small school that was near New York, I applied to a number large schools and schools that were far away. It’s important to know what you want in a school, but it is just as important that you cast a wide net, as things may change along the line. I was happy with the results that started to come in and ecstatic when I finally got my decision from Amherst (which happened to be the LAST school I heard from).

College will undoubtedly be among the best few years of your life. This is why it is very important to put a lot of time into your selection of schools. I have changed significantly my two years at Amherst, and I know that I will continue to change and Amherst will continue to shape the person I become until, and even after, I graduate. It is my hope that I can assist all of my mentees in finding the place that will shape them into the person they are striving to become as well.


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Name: Christin Washington
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High school attended: Loomis Chaffee
Major (or potential major): Political Science; Sociology or Black Studies
Activities on campus: African Caribbean Students Union, Equestrian, Black Students Union, Homeless Connect
Hobbies: Reading, watching “reality” shows, knitting, writing, listening to music

During my college application process, I had a college counselor from my school and one from my program, Prep for Prep 9. Although I had help from two major influences in my life, I often felt pulled in different directions (and the two separate Naviance websites, reviews on CollegeBoard, and advice from The Princeton Review helped complicate things a little further.) Swamped with uncertainty about the size of the classes I wanted to be in and the size of the college I wanted to attend whilst focused on my need for a generous financial aid package, a welcoming community, and a challenging curriculum, I wondered and worried how it was possible to find the perfect college for me. More informal questions concerned me such as, how will my hair get done and is it possible to get into Amherst after being denied from the Diversity Open House? Trust me, I can relate to the feeling of opening a can of worms during my college process.

However, the good thing about it all was learning how to be flexible with what I wanted and unwavering with what I needed during this major process and decision. Likewise, the college process was an extremely reflective time for me that I would not change for the world. As stressful and reflective as this process was, as a Telementor, I aim to ease the confusion and help balance varying emotions by supporting fellow students through the college process. I have experience as a resource for underserved high school students who need or request advice and general help navigating through the college websites and financial aid forms. As a Prep for Prep student, I am also very familiar with enrichment and mentor groups and the importance they place on prospective students having access to a college education. I am truly excited about offering guidance any way I can, to share the advice and the resources that were given to me, and to find the school that best suits you!


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Name: Tierra Wilkins
Hometown: Wilmington, NC
High school attended: Heide Trask Senior High
Major (or potential major): English; Black Studies
Activities on campus: Reader to Reader, Girls, Inc., Pride Alliance, Orientation Leader, Theater
Hobbies: Reading, drawing, painting nails, working out

I didn't know about Amherst College until my senior year of high school. It wasn't until I received an invitation for an overnight visit that I began to research the college. I liked what I read and decided at the last minute to go. It was the best decision I could make. I fell in love with the campus and the people. Coming from a low-income, racially homogenous area in southeastern North Carolina, I was desperate for some diversity, and Amherst offered that to me. I decided to apply Early Decision, and now here I am (yay)! (Funny story: I flipped a coin when I was deciding where to apply early. Amherst beat out Yale, and I'm okay with that.) However, my college application process was more stressful than it sounds. Because I am a first-generation college student, I wish I'd had someone there to help me along the way and answer my crazy questions. I became a Telementor to help students like me. I can't wait to work with you!


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Name: Stephanie Yang
Hometown: Fort Lee, NJ
High school attended: Bergen County Academies (Academy of Visual & Performing Arts)
Major (or potential major): Practice of Art (Studio Concentration)
Activities on campus: Korean Students Association, DASAC, Poster Designer for Theater & Dance Department
Hobbies: Graphic design, watching movies, MMORPGs, dyeing my hair

As both a first-gen American and college student, I went into the college process half-blind. I've wanted to be an artist since kindergarten and I've wanted to go to art school since I was in elementary school. I even had a list of art schools I'd wanted to apply to since the fifth grade. My junior year of high school, however, I realized that art school was financially out of reach and I had to look elsewhere to get the aid I needed. QuestBridge was a great resource in finding schools that fit that criteria; when the acceptances started coming in, the schools that I had applied through QuestBridge were the ones offering the best aid. Eventually, I ended up visiting Amherst and loving it. It meant I wouldn't be able to get a BFA in Graphic Design like I'd always wanted, but it did mean I'd have the kind of academic rigor and variety I'd grown up used to, especially with the open curriculum. For me, the college process meant lots of research, scrolling through forums, and trying to accumulate enough resources to make definitive decisions about both where I wanted to go and whether it was a viable option. It was hectic, chaotic, and while I love where I ended up, I wish I could have had more personal resources than my friends who didn't know any more than I did, which is why I chose to be a Telementor. Rather than just a list of statistics and facts, I'd like to be someone who can answer questions, give advice, and reassure you that it's all going to be worth it.


Camille

Name: Camille Youngblood
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
High school attended: University School of Milwaukee
Major (or potential major): Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought (LJST)
Activities on Campus: Varsity Field Hockey, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Black Student Union, Student Organizations Review Committee Member (Association of Amherst Students)
Hobbies: Traveling

The college search and selection process requires organization, persistence, and guidance. Throughout high school, I was given remarkable personalized counseling on where I should attend college. The process started freshman year when I met individually with my college counselor as well as with my entire grade to discuss hurdles I would have to cross during the college search and application process. Sophomore year was a continuation of the advice and encouragement from our college guidance office. In our junior year, our class (100 students) took a college tour to four very different colleges and universities to show us the qualities that we would and would not like in our future college. It was during junior year that I was prepared for the required entrance exams, how to fill out applications, what to expect during an interview, what to look for in a college, and active consultation on my final list of five colleges.

It was senior year, however, that proved to be the most fruitful to me. I was given lots of advice from not only my college guidance counselor, but also the Head of the Upper School, the Dean of Students, and my advisor. It helped that they knew me well and so were able to guide me on the right path to the college that fit me best. After months of essay preparation, visits from about a hundred college representatives to our high school (annually), and much deliberation, I decided to apply to Amherst College Early Decision.

I applied for the Telementor Position because I want to give other aspiring students the opportunities and guidance that were available to me. As a Telementor, I hope to keep my mentees organized, focused, and excited about the college process!


Lawrence

Name: Lawrence Yu
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High school attended: Stuyvesant High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience; Psychology
Activities on campus: Karate Club, Choral Society, Glee Club, Equestrian Team, Chinese Awareness Organization, GlobeMed, Notetaker, Reader to Reader Mentor, Gym Equipment Room Monitor
Hobbies: Running, Starcraft II, French

I believe I started looking at colleges shortly before the beginning of my senior year. My college selection process was facilitated by my high school college advisors, guidance counselors, various internet college review sites, and college data books. My college advisors gave me a good tip on how to pinpoint which school or what group of schools was right for me: create a list of different things you expect to have in a college, or different interests you have—anything that you believe will be something important to have over the next four years of your life, like location, school size, student demographics, sport programs, etc.; then, see how schools you are curious about fare in each of those categories. If there are a few select things you value most in a school, put them on the top of your list when searching for schools, and then narrow your search from there. I looked at websites and books that ranked schools based on the aforementioned statistics and other ones. And that was how I found Amherst College! I applied to college using the CommonApp, but QuestBridge is another way to do it; each has their pros and cons, so my suggestion is to look at each application form, and choose the one that best fits your needs.   


 

 

 

 

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