“Being a first-generation student, there wasn’t a lot of guidance to navigate through the whole college process. A majority of the time I had to figure things out on my own.” Arianna Moreno is one of several mentors in Hope’s College & Career Access summer program, Spark U. As a first-generation college student herself, she experienced firsthand how difficult college can be to navigate without someone who has been through college before. Arianna adds, “I’m so happy to offer my advice and own experience with these high school students and help guide them through a really scary but exciting time of their life.”
The Spark U model brings first-generation college students from around Central Florida to lead the sessions. Postsecondary success feels more attainable to the Spark U participants when the program is led by college students who come from the same neighborhoods and schools like them.
Director of College & Career Access, Maggi Noyes, says the program was created because “The students who participate in the Spark U program now have an understanding of the college application process, how to access resources to support their post-secondary journey, and have explored the opportunities they have when they graduate high school.” The program gives students the knowledge they need to be successful after high school and offer them resources they can utilize throughout their postsecondary career.