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Cliff Jones - DurhamAuthor: Cliff Jones, First-Year Adviser at Hillside and Southern High Schools

Hillside and Southern High Schools are home to some of Durham’s best and brightest students. Unfortunately, however, these well-qualified students are discouraged from pursuing higher education by the challenges associated with having disadvantaged, low-income backgrounds and becoming the first in their families to attend college. These obstacles can be overcome with the passionate commitment of individuals who have been significantly impacted by their education, and have the compassion to make that a reality for someone else. Thanks to the Carolina College Advising Corps, I have the incredible privilege of serving today’s underrepresented youth, the promise of the next generation, in hopes of providing the information, resources, and consideration necessary for making college accessible to everyone.

During College Application Week, every single 12th-grader at Hillside and Southern High Schools had the opportunity to complete at least one college application. I, along with teachers, administrators, and community volunteers, assisted students with creating college accounts and submitting applications. We followed up with students regarding the next steps in the college application process and how to fund their post-secondary education. I cannot even begin to estimate the number of students who, prior to CAW, had no idea about how to apply to college and who, otherwise, wouldn’t have. The significance of completing just one college application has been evident – my students possess a new found self-confidence, a vision for tomorrow. They now believe that their dreams can become reality, and that their wildest imaginings are now at their fingertips. The look of excitement and the air of accomplishment that accompanied my students as they left that day makes everything we did and all that we do worth it. And it’s not even close.

We are endlessly grateful to all who organized, assisted with, and supported College Application Week. I anticipate that the impact of this week will bear fruit for years to come.



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