Kaysiana and Midheta share their stories

The College Bound Scholarship Program was established by our Legislature eight years ago. College Bound provides scholarships to low-income and foster care students who enroll in middle school, keep their grades up, and stay out of trouble.

More than 212,000 students have signed up, and the program has had a huge impact. Enrollment has shown to positively impact high school academic performance, graduation rates, as well as college going rates and persistence. Of students enrolling in higher education, College Bound students are almost 50 percent more likely to attend a four-year college than low-income students statewide.

We strongly support College Bound and were proud to serve on the state’s College Bound Task Force last year. During the past few years, we have worked with many partners, including the College Success Foundation, Washington State Student Achievement Council, and the Road Map Project, to amplify College Bound’s impact and success and advocate for ongoing state support.

This program changes lives.

We were fortunate to hear the stories of two College Bound students this morning at our annual breakfast. We heard from Kaysiana Hazelwood, a senior at West Seattle High School, and from Midheta Djuderija, a student at the University of Washington.

Below are their incredible stories, told in their own words.

Kaysiana Hazelwood

Kaysiana HazelwoodGood morning. I am Kaysiana Hazelwood and I am a senior at West Seattle High school. I will graduate in June this year.

The College Bound Scholarship has played a big part in my decision to go to college. I learned about the College Bound Scholarship in the 8th grade and once I heard about what it was for, I knew I had to sign up. The scholarship was a promise to me that college was attainable, and from that point on, I knew what I was going to accomplish. However, the path to get there has not always been straight and narrow.

High school has been a bumpy ride with the ups and downs that come with it. I am the second oldest of five siblings and my mom is a single parent, so we are all expected to contribute to our house. When my mom had to work long hours, I was expected to step up and help with my siblings. Almost every day in 8th grade, I was responsible for getting my younger brothers from school and day care right after school, walking us all down to the bus stop to get home, and making sure my brothers were fed and that the house was clean. I was responsible for doing the same thing the start of 9th grade and my grades didn’t take that so well.

In my junior year, a new program was introduced to me and I only knew of this because of the College Bound Scholarship. That is also how they knew about me. The program was called the Achiever’s Scholar Program. It is a free college prep program offered through the College Success Foundation. Through it, I got so much more support from mentors, advisors, and even from my school counselors. They helped make sure I was on the right track to go to college and able to use my College Bound Scholarship and do something with my life.

Being a part of the Achievers Program, I got to go to a camp at Pacific Lutheran University during the summer before my senior year. This camp is called ACE, which stands for Achievers College Experience. We were able to experience what college would be like for three days and two nights. We got to sleep in dorms, use meal cards, explore the campus, and just generally see what it is like to be in college. It was so much fun and serious at the same time. We had a talent show, talked about the ACT/SAT, and they gave us some very useful advice. It was exciting and overwhelming. The campus was big and there was lots and lots of walking. I got lost a few times but I found my way. Overall, it was an experience that made me excited for senior year and what would come after it.

This year, after I graduate in June, I will be attending Seattle Central College to pursue early childhood education and later transfer to WSU to earn my teaching degree.

I’ve heard the statistics for kids who come from single parent households, who have lower levels of education and higher dropout rates, but I will be not be a statistic. I will become the first person in my family to graduate from college.

The College Bound Scholarship plays a big part in that.

In order to prove to myself—as well as everyone else that I could be successful, all I needed was a starting point. For me, the College Bound Scholarship was my starting point.

Thank you.

Midheta Djuderija

Midheta DjuderijaHello, my name is Midheta Djuderija and I am currently in my second year of college at University of Washington. Truthfully, it feels surreal to be standing before you all as a university student because there was a point in my life when I didn’t think that was possible for me.

I came to America before my 5th birthday. I was born in the genocide-torn country of Bosnia. I was a war baby; born towards the end of the war. My father was a solider which kept him away from home so much. I only saw him about once every month in those early years. At that time, survival was a priority for our family, not education. It wasn’t until I came to America that my priorities shifted.

Starting school in America, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was never in ELL, thanks to watching Dragon Tales as a child while my mom went back to the community college for an early childhood education associates degree. However, I was the tall, Eastern European girl who was just trying to figure out how the education system worked. Any privilege I may have had was taken away from me when people heard my name: Midheta Djuderija. They would reply with “That’s… odd,” and then immediately ask, “Where are you from?” When I would say Bosnia, they replied with, “Oh, I’m sorry.” I always wondered what they were sorry about.

Then in middle school, I remember being introduced to the College Bound Scholarship. It was easy to sign up for, and I was told that if I kept my grades up it would follow me through high school, all the way through college. This was such a motivation for me. College scholarships, like College Bound, would be my only guarantee of a college education. My dad works long, tiring hours driving trucks for the airport. Although my mom was a trained educator in Bosnia, her education was not looked at the same way here. She has not been able to work in her chosen profession and has been unemployed for a number of years now due to ongoing illnesses.

With opportunities like the College Bound Scholarship, I was given hope. As a College Bound Scholar, I was motivated to keep my grades up because I knew a reward was to come for my hard work. And I kept up with my grades in high school, even while taking classes at the community college through running start. Loe and behold, I got accepted to the University of Washington.  As I planned to start college at UW, there was no doubt in my mind that my parents were proud of me. But equal to the pride they felt that I’d be pursuing a college education, I knew that financial costs would be a concern. Scholarships such as College Bound were helpful in calming their worries.

Not only has the College Bound Scholarship helped me, but numerous other families in need. Even my younger sister, who is a senior in high school this year will be benefiting from it. And my cousin, who desperately needs the financial assistance after being raised by a single mother due to his father’s incarceration. The College Bound Scholarship is there to support families from all different backgrounds, all that matters is our drive to succeed and willingness to put in the work.

With an opportunity like the College Bound Scholarship, I was given the chance to go to college and be exposed to many things that have inspired me to take action with issues I am passionate about; I care about empowering younger girls, I care about discrimination with health insurance, I care about first generation college students pursing competitive degrees, and I care about children with mental illness who suffered neglect in early childhood.

I have learned a lot about life, the world, and how I can positively affect change. Having a college education will allow me to have a greater impact on these things.

Here before you is the little refugee girl from Bosnia. After a little over a decade in America, I am pursing a degree in nursing at one of the top public universities in the country. All of this is possible thanks to wonderful opportunities like the College Bound Scholarship.

Thank you to both of these inspiring young students for sharing their stories with us. Learn more about the College Bound Scholarship Program.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Development, Events, Higher Education, LEV News

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