Contemplating College: Southwest Airlines is Helping Kids Envision Their Dreams

 
  "Thank you for sending me to Kalamazoo [College]! Southwest Airlines was my first flight ever. I loved it!"

"Thank you for sending me to Kalamazoo [College]! Southwest Airlines was my first flight ever. I loved it!"

When Heart of Los Angeles high school student Violaysia began considering whether she might move away to college, the odds were stacked against her.  Not only was she a first-generation student, whose family was going to struggle to pay for school, she had never even been on an airplane before.

First-generation college students often have trouble seeing themselves on college campuses. College visits are an integral piece to the higher education journey and serve as motivation during the stressful application season. However, many low-income students lack the resources necessary to take part in the sometimes life-changing practice of touring their potential dream school.

Thanks to Southwest Airlines, HOLA is able to help kids overcome this barrier, by providing them with free flights to schools they might not otherwise consider.  And when they return, it is with a new vigor for the application process. Their likelihood of achieving a successful college transition is increased, and as an additional benefit, they share their experiences, which provides inspiration to younger students, elementary through high school.

The creation of a college-going culture is essential to HOLA's success, because kids need to be able to picture themselves on campus.  If they never get to visit one, or don't know someone who has, that can be very hard.

In addition to Southwest's direct impact on successful student journeys, the company also supports HOLA's organizational growth.  Southwest-sponsored flights increase our capacity for staff development by sending HOLA staff members to conferences where they can learn and bring back what they have learned to the organization.  And the flights allow HOLA to share its best practices at conferences and with policymakers through travel to the California State Capitol.

All of this supports our goal of ensuring every child has equal opportunity to achieve their full potential, something that happened in Violaysia's case when she accepted the offer to the college she visited in Kalamazoo.  For Violaysia, the excitement fostered by her Southwest trip was able to be leveraged by another HOLA corporate partner, Nike, when they gave her a full scholarship with through the Jordan Brand Wings Scholars Program.  Here's a video of her finding out that the school she envisioned herself at, thanks to Southwest, was now within her grasp.