Celebrating Our Graduating Scholars: Domminiece Willis!

"Words Alive has been such a huge stepping stone into both my transition into college and adulthood. I have picked up on so many educational, social and life skills throughout my time with Words Alive." -- Domminiece Willis, Words Alive Westreich Scholar

 An image of Domminiece at her graduation. She's holding her Southwestern College degree up to the camera and smiling, and she's wearing a Words Alive Westreich Scholar stole!

An image of Domminiece at her graduation. She's holding her Southwestern College degree up to the camera and smiling, and she's wearing a Words Alive Westreich Scholar stole!

The Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program awards scholarships to participants in the Words Alive Adolescent Book Group to support them in their pursuit of higher education at the college or vocational level. Unlike other scholarship programs, which typically fund only tuition, books and educational supplies, each recipient is eligible to receive funds to cover the cost of rent, food, childcare, clothing, travel and other living expenses. Additionally, the program matches each recipient with a mentor. Student and mentor meet regularly throughout the school year, and the mentors provide guidance, direction, and often, a shoulder to lean on.

In the past month, we have seen three of our scholarship students, Domminiece Willis, Zaphire Alonso Duarte, and Lexi Martinez, graduate from community college with associate's degrees. All three students graduated on May 25, 2018, Domminiece from Southwestern College and Zaphire and Lexi from City College.

Words Alive is thrilled to have been a part of the journey towards success for all of these wonderful students. We are so proud of all of them; they embody what it means to persevere and thrive.

We interviewed Domminiece Willis to learn more about her college experience and her experience with the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program.

Read on:

 An image of Jessica Fryman, Teen Services Program Manager, and Domminice Willis at the graduation!

An image of Jessica Fryman, Teen Services Program Manager, and Domminice Willis at the graduation!

Name: Domminiece Willis

Age: 26

College: Southwestern College

Degree (with area of study): Associates in Art: Child Development

Mentor: Karen Ladner


1. When were you first introduced to Words Alive? How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

I was first introduced to Words Alive through the monthly book groups held at Monarch School in 2010. Words Alive has been such a huge stepping stone into both my transition into college and adulthood. I have picked up on so many educational, social and life skills throughout my time with Words Alive.

2. What was the biggest challenge you faced in earning your degree?
The biggest challenge that I faced in earning my degree was struggling with self-doubt, overwhelming course loads and comparing my progress with others. I found myself constantly belittling myself or disregarding any minor achievements or progress that I had made because in my point of view I was ”behind” everyone else and that began to take a toll heavily on my grades and my motivation to finish college.

3. How did you overcome that challenge?
With the help of my family, mentor, and another Words Alive staff member, I dropped my course load in half. I took a break from the scholarship and I focused more on celebrating my achievements, big or small, and understanding that my educational journey is not like everyone else’s and that I will move at my own pace and in my own way, but I will make it to the finish line. Regardless.

4. What is your favorite book that you read during your college years? Why?
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I remember reading this book and having to pause saying, “This is ME, this book is about me.” There were so many similarities between me and the characters of this book. The struggles of stability, financial issues, schooling and self-discovery throughout this book spoke to me and gave me such a positive outlook on life because it was so refreshing to see how everything worked out for her in the end.

5. What are your future plans now that you have earned your associate degree?
Now that I have my associate degree in Child Development it's off to San Diego State University in the fall to earn my bachelor’s in child development, so I can become a Child Life Specialist. Can't stop now! The future children depend on me!

6. What advice do you have for the next generation?

Keep going, stay positive and always surround yourself with a strong support system! It's going to be hard and you'll come across many obstacles in your life. You'll get a few bruises here and there and it's okay to sit and cry over them as long as you get up to grab a band-aid and push through.

Learn more about our Teen Services program here: http://www.wordsalive.org/teenservices/