Voices of Hola: Alumna Remembers Kindnesses Received in College
Growing up, my parents made it clear that going to college was a must! Even when I did not understand or know much about it, I knew that I had to go to college to become someone in life. Up until middle school, going to college was something I knew I had to do, but it all changed when I visited my first campus ever, Stanford University. I vividly remember walking around campus and taking pictures of everything! After that weekend, going to college was no longer something I had to do but something that I knew I wanted to experience. Applying to college was not easy. It was more than filling out an application with your name on it. I spent long nights at HOLA during the college application process, and I shed some tears, but I knew this was what I truly wanted.
My desire for growth, independence, and freedom blinded me from the inevitable feeling of homesickness that hit the moment my parents drove away and left me in San Francisco. August 2013 was the start to an incredible but often lonesome chapter in my life. No matter how much advice you get, you are never completely emotionally prepared. However, despite the struggles, I knew I could always turn to HOLA for emotional support.
My admiration for those who make up HOLA started the moment I become part of their high school program. Not only do they make sure students get the financial and academic support they need—they also avidly promote self-care and wellness. Around midterm season, the alumni department sends out care packages to remind us we are not alone and have the support of an entire HOLA family at our disposition. I will never forget the feeling I felt when I got my first care package. To an outsider, it was a postal service box filled with candy, cards, and stationery supplies, but to me it was more than that because each item represented something. A candy bar was there to sweeten the bitter days, a pencil and a notebook to write down everything I was feeling, but what stood out was the unique, hand drawn card an elementary student drew for me. It was a colorful eight by eleven piece of paper with a building on it that said college and a person standing right next to it and in big letter “have fun in college”. Seeing that card reminded me of the naïve little girl who knew nothing about college but was very much excited to live in the dorms at Stanford.
The care package was a reminder that I had to keep going, and that getting through the bad days made the good ones all the sweeter.
"...what stood out was the unique, hand drawn card an elementary student drew for me."
If you are interested in reminding HOLA alumni they are not alone in the transformative college process, please donate to our care packages or contact Katherine Kouot to learn more about HOLA’s College Success Program.