“I would have never been able to come this far.”

“It was summer of 2016 and I had been unemployed for a few months Sang-Won2with the hope of getting into college. It had been a dream of mine ever since I graduated from high school several years ago. However, I was struggling with how to enroll in college, what to do with the financial aid application process and I was in fear of running out of my savings. I just moved back from Japan in 2015, and even though I was born and lived in the U.S. in my early childhood, everything was new and exciting but at the same time foreign and sometimes frustrating to me.

Then I found Seattle Education Access online. I was in desperate need of help for all the application processes and with academic preparation, so I reached out to the SEA by myself. I was introduced to my Education Advocate, Penny. Even though it was right before the start of fall quarter, Penny was able to help me with finishing class registration and financial aid applications, and I was able to get into college classes in a timely manner. She really helped me feel comfortable on the college campus. Penny connected me to Drew, an SEA tutor, who was a great help in preparing for placement tests. I assumed I would be placed into developmental classes, but, unexpectedly, I did well on the tests and was placed right into college-level classes.

I have greatly relied on their continued support throughout the following quarters, even extending beyond academic affairs. Penny has been a huge support for resources in and outside school; she has helped me apply for and earn scholarships, get health care, go through the complicated paperwork at school, and so on. To be honest, studying at college has been difficult for me with my limited English ability and my long break after graduating high school. Although thanks to Drew’s tutoring help, I have been able to hang on to the fast-paced college course load. I even earned a 3.5 GPA in my first quarter of college.

Without them, I would have never been able to come this far. I am looking forward to continuing my studies and transferring onto a 4-year college. I am still deciding what my major would be, but I want to complete a Bachelor’s degree and eventually gain more English, academic and employable skills.  My dream is to use my bilingual ability to work in a global setting. I thank you for your continuous support and investment to my success through Seattle Education Access.”

– Sang-Won

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“Asmaa has strengthened my determination”

“Growing up in a Mandinka society, my parents were always motivating me just to mFatou2ake sure I pursue a better education, not just getting a master’s degree but also a PhD. My parents never got the opportunity to sit in a college environment, which was why they encouraged me to be better than them. My family always motivated me and made me have this belief that in order to be successful in this life, you need to set high standards for yourself.

At a very young age, I was lucky enough to see life differently from the way it was viewed by some of my childhood friends. Living thousand miles away from my family was very tough for me, especially so young. I was forced to learn how to deal with moving away from the people I cherish so much and the only people that have been there for me since I was born, and adopt a new way of living my life without them.

My trip to the United States changed my life from a young innocent child to the lady I am today. From being a dropout, I had an opportunity to join the Career Education Options (CEO) program, which is mainly for high school dropouts. I was lucky enough to meet with social worker from King County who introduced me to Asmaa.

Asmaa has strengthened my determination and l really appreciate her effort and commitment towards me. Being part of the SEA program has marked a turning point in my life. They provide me with all the necessary tools I need to accomplish my goals. Asmaa also helped connect me with a mentor who will help me further my career and improve my French.”

Fatou

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“She is the most wonderful and powerful person I could have in my journey.”

“When I was little, my grandmother told me that ‘after the storm, comes peace,’ and I agree with her because no matter the difficulties I have encountered in my life, I have achieved many of my dreams.

Everything was new for me when I came to the United States such as the language, the people, and the culture, but these changes never stopped me from wanting to continue my education. In 2013, I started in the ESL program at Bellevue College. It wasn’t easy because my English was not very good. I only felt comfortable speaking those magic words, “please” and “thank you.” However, on 2015 I met Alex, an SEA Education Advocate. He helped me through my educational journey, applying for scholarships, signing up for classes, editing essays, and finding the right funding sources. At that time, I was facing financial issues because I didn’t have money to pay for my studies, but, with the help of Alex, I applied and I won a full-tuition scholarship.

In 2016, Alex moved away, but introduced me to Asmaa Ahmed, a new Education Advocate at SEA. She is the most wonderful and powerful person I could have in my journey. She helped me to apply for financial support through SEA to cover some basic needs. Also, she has helped me with research projects, assignments, and finding mentors. In general, she has helped me with everything you could think a student needs for growing and achieving their dreams.

I want to encourage all students to continue their studies and to persevere. No matter what storms you encounter, no matter where you come from, your language or your culture, there will always be people who are willing to help. If you keep trying, you can find the resources you need to succeed. As my grandmother always said, there is peace after the storm. I have been working hard to find that peace. And I have learned that if you keep trying, you will get through the storms, and you will find your dreams waiting for you on the other side.”

– Sashia

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“I am utmost grateful for the love and genuine kindness”

“Seattle Access Education has been a blessing to me in ways I cannot describe.

It is amazing how we meet people on our life’s journey who know nothing about us or where we come from or care about how we look or what color we have. Seattle Access Education has been that figure of deep kindness and help to me by assisting with my tuition and giving me wonderful Education Advocates, such as Asmaa and Alex.

I feel that an organization as this should be recognized worldwide for its great and heartfelt job they do and how they impact lives. I am utmost grateful for the love and genuine kindness received from this organization, and I want to use this platform to give a special thank Alex and Asmaa for being such great individuals with impeccable personalities to represent Seattle Access Education.”

LimaLima3

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Meet Karla

Meet Karla_color

“When I was 11, my family moved to Auburn, Washington from Los Angeles because I was growing up in a neighborhood where we heard gun shots right across the street. After we moved, my parents worked hard, but were never around to help me keep good homework habits.

In high school, skipping school, getting pregnant, and the loss of my family member set me up for a low GPA. I was judged by teachers and students when I was pregnant, making every day even more difficult. I still managed to graduate, and having my daughter, more than anything, encouraged me to continue my education. Going to college was one of the scariest yet most exciting feelings I’ve had apart from becoming a mother.

Balancing being a new mother and student was not easy. Not having childcare was a struggle during my first year of college. But, asking and getting help was what got me through school.

During my first year at Green River College, my daughter, Mia, was in an early education program. Her teacher could see I was struggling, so she connected me to Angela, my Education Advocate at Seattle Education Access.

Angela has opened doors for me. Most importantly, I was able to obtain an SEA scholarship to pay for daycare. Knowing my daughter was safe helped me focus, motivated me to stay in school, and pushed me harder. Being responsible was not my specialty in high school, but I have learned a lot about responsibility through these life-changing experiences. Ever since, I have been able to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.

After my AA, I plan to transfer to University of Washington Tacoma, which will make me the first in my family to attend a four-year university. I want to major in Law & Policy and minor in Criminal Justice. I have been passionate about these subjects since I was 7 years old. Seeing fear in my mother’s eyes encouraged me to be able to help her in the future; I want to never see that look on her face again. I ultimately want to become a lawyer to help low-income families gain knowledge of rights, freedom, and justice.”

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Dear Students and Community Members,

Dear Students and Community Members,

The past several weeks have been very difficult. The Seattle Education Access staff and board would like to express our love and support for our students and community members during these uncertain times. We will continue to support you in your educational journey, and we remain committed to serving those who face the most barriers to their education and livelihood. We are in solidarity with the people in our community who are people of color, women, immigrants, undocumented, Mexican, Muslim and other targeted religious or cultural identities, as well as those who identify as LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and those who experience the intersection of these identities. We will continue to advocate with and for you, and stand against any expression or act of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, ableism, and any other form of discrimination. We are committed to fostering safe and inclusive spaces, and to providing access to resources.  We recognize that our work is rooted in the strength of the diverse communities we serve, the power of the people, and the recognition of human dignity and worth. We recognize your power, resilience, voice, and determination.

Our education advocates will be reaching out to students individually to check in about additional resources and/or support you may need. We recognize the power of showing up for you, we remain grounded in supporting you through individualized and personal attention, and we will continue to advocate for and with you within systems that create barriers to your education.  We are here for you. Please feel free to reach out to your education advocate for any immediate assistance you may need.

– Seattle Education Access Board & Staff

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“I wanted something better”

danisha3My name is Danisha and I am a student at Central Washington University’s branch campus in Des Moines. Next August, I will graduate with a BS in Social Services. My goal is to become a counselor for at-risk youth.

In 2008, I was in high school but falling behind rapidly in credits and did not feel focused. A friend told me about Renton YouthSource, where I could get diploma on a flexible schedule and it was one bus from my house, so I decided to try it out. I immediately liked the staff and felt the program provided far more support than I had received in traditional high school. It was really what I needed at the time. I quickly picked up my studies and was able to graduate on time in 2009.

After graduating high school, I was not sure what to do next. I worked a series of jobs to pay the bills, but that I didn’t enjoy – call center, in-home care, nursing assistant at an assisted living facility. Then, in 2011 I ran into Kiana Davis, a staff member I knew from Renton YouthSource, who told me about Seattle Education Access.

In early 2012, I began working with Jeff Corey, an Education Advocate at SEA. I knew I wanted something better and that I needed to go to school in order to achieve my goals, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to get started. Jeff and I started meeting weekly at the library in SeaTac to create an education plan. I knew I wanted to help people and liked the idea of working with children and families. After investigating several options, I decided to pursue an AA transfer degree at Highline College and then a BA in Human Services.

My first quarter was very challenging I felt insecure about whether I was smart enough to be in college, and despite the fact I was passing my classes, this feeling wouldn’t go away. Then, near the end of the quarter, I found out I was pregnant. At first this felt like a wrench in my plans, but soon it became a new source of motivation. Going to school wasn’t just for me anymore. I had someone else to look out for. SEA went the extra mile to make sure I had everything I needed to stay in school, like tutoring, scholarships for books, quarterly planning, and moral support. Jeff provided a lot of affirmation along the way. It meant a lot to have someone that cared. I completed my first year at Highline with a 3.5 GPA then had my son over the summer.

By the end of September, I was back in school, taking online classes while raising my child. My second year was tough with the new baby, but I was really focused. I earned my AA degree in early 2015, and immediately found full-time work as a para-educator at Foster High School in Tukwila. Jeff worked with me to apply to several schools, but ultimately I decided to pursue a BS in Social Services at the Central Washington University branch campus in Des Moines.

I am thankful for all of the support I received from Seattle Education Access over the years. They have taught me perseverance; that no matter what obstacles life throws at you, you should never give up. With the right supports in place, you really can follow your dreams. I appreciate the full array of services SEA provides and the flexibility they offer.

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