Westreich Scholarship

WAWS Spotlight: Domminiece Willis

An image of Domminiece Willis standing at the 2018 WAWS Award Ceremony.

An image of Domminiece Willis standing at the 2018 WAWS Award Ceremony.

“Words Alive is a home away from home to me. My experience with Words Alive has affected me in so many positive ways. I have transitioned more gracefully into adulthood and have found myself stepping more outside my comfort zone and experiences new things.”

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.

Let’s hear more from Domminiece!

Name: Domminiece Willis

Age: 27

College: San Diego State University

Degree (with area of study): Child Development

High School: Monarch School

Mentor: Karen Ladner

How did you first get involved with Words Alive?

I first got involved with Words Alive through the book club when I was going to Monarch school back when it was at the Little Italy campus.

How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

Words Alive became more than just a scholarship to me. It became therapy, a resource center, a study hall, an adventure, a place where I know that everyone has my best interest at heart and will go above and beyond to make sure my every need was met. Words Alive is a home away from home to me. My experience with Words Alive has affected me in so many positive ways. I have transitioned more gracefully into adulthood and have found myself stepping more outside my comfort zone and experiences new things.

What have you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?

I would have to say that this year I am most proud of finishing up the Spring Semester at State with A’s and B’s. It was difficult, but I told myself that I did not want anything lower than a B and I made it happen. Shooting for all A’s in the Fall!

Tell us about your favorite college memory.

My favorite college memory I would have to say was my orientation day at SDSU. I remember sitting in the Child and Family Development section and just thinking “Wow, I really did it. I’m here”.

What are you currently reading?

Girls Like Me - by Lola Stvil.



WAWS Spotlight: Antonise Stewart

An image of Antonise Stewart standing at the podium at the 2018 WAWS Award Ceremony.

An image of Antonise Stewart standing at the podium at the 2018 WAWS Award Ceremony.

“My name is Antonise Stewart, I'm 22 years old and my dream is to be a veterinarian.”

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.

Let’s hear more from Antonise!

Name: Antonise Stewart

Age: 22

College: San Diego City College

Degree (with area of study): Biology

High School: Portland High School

Mentor: Brittany Jackson

How did you first get involved with Words Alive?

I first got involved with Words Alive when I first heard about it from my sister, who is an alumna from Words Alive.

How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

So far it's a little overwhelming because it's my first time being involved and I'm still learning about Words Alive.

What have you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?

What I accomplished this year that I'm most proud of is finally deciding my major of being a veterinarian.

Tell us about your favorite college memory.

My favorite college memory was from my Biology class, when we went to the zoo as part of the class we had a self-guided scavenger hunt.

What are you currently reading?

What I'm reading right now is a book called The Slave Community about how the slaves lived and interacted in slavery.

WAWS Spotlight: Daimeon Rodriguez

An image of Daimeon Rodriguez with his award at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Ceremony.

An image of Daimeon Rodriguez with his award at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Ceremony.

Daimeon is a third time WAWS recipient currently studying Computer Engineering at San Diego City College with hopes of working at Google. Daimeon works with Phi Theta Kappa.

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.

Let’s hear more from Daimeon!

Name: Daimeon Rodriguez

Age: 20

College: San Diego City College

Degree (with area of study): Computer Engineering

High School: La Mesa Summit

Mentor: David Gimbel

How did you first get involved with Words Alive?

Through La Mesa blended as a participant in the Adolescent Book Group.

How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

It has affected me by allowing more opportunities for me to take; allowing more achievements.

What have you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?

I'm most proud of my recent semester of getting an overall GPA of 3.66, also getting scholarships from Words Alive and the Mahatma Gandhi scholarship.

Tell us about your favorite college memory.

My favorite college memory was when I received my first GPA above a 2.5, now it's a 3.66.

What are you currently reading?

The Clouds of Glory.

Announcing the 2019-2020 Words Alive Westreich Scholars!

“I want to become a school counselor to help other youth understand the importance of education… As a school counselor, I will be able to counsel students about the power of their choices and teach them the same skills that helped me to succeed. The Words Alive Westreich Scholarship will help me to further my education and effectively use my personal experiences to relate to students.”
Brittany Jackson, Words Alive Westreich Scholar & Mentor

An image of three of our scholars at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony: Antonise Stewart (left), Domminiece Willis (middle), and Brittany Jackson (right).

An image of three of our scholars at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony: Antonise Stewart (left), Domminiece Willis (middle), and Brittany Jackson (right).

Here at Words Alive, we are incredibly excited to announce our Words Alive Westreich Scholars for the 2019-2020 school year! The transition from high school to college is difficult enough as it is, but when you have to navigate housing and food insecurity, child care, a lack of positive adult mentors, and much more, succeeding in school becomes that much harder. We all deserve to pursue our passions through education, and all our our scholars exemplify how a little support can go a long way.

Brittany Jackson was a Words Alive Westreich Scholar all throughout her time at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She developed a strong relationship with her Words Alive mentor, Sarah Archibald, who helped her along the way. She graduated, came back to San Diego, and then started volunteering with us as a mentor. Now, as she pursues her Masters at the University of San Diego, she has become a Words Alive first by being both a scholar and a mentor in the program!

Lexi, Zaphire, and Domminiece all graduated with Associate’s degrees last May and all started at San Diego State University this past fall. Just like the transition from high school to community college, the transition from community college to a four-year university presents its own challenges. They all struggled in their own ways but in their struggle learned more about themselves and what they needed to do to succeed. Along the way, our WAWS workshops provided support in terms of professional and personal development, and helped them learned skills such as time management, networking, and financial literacy.

Janett, one of our first-year scholars, went back to high school in her early 20s and is now earning her diploma. She is dedicated to using her lived experiences to relate to students and guide them on a positive path as a school counselor.

Each one of our scholars has a story like this — full of perseverance, passion, and determination. With help from the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship through financial, professional development, and mentor support, we are so excited to see what they do in their next chapter.

Learn more about each one of our scholars below!

Paulina Aguilar-Lino is a returning scholar and a student at Southwestern College. She is studying Recording Arts & Technology.

“The Words Alive Westreich Scholarship has helped me greatly as well in remaining determined to accomplish my goals. I’ve learned that all I really need is within my heart and my heart is always with my family.”

Zaphire Alonso is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego State University. She is studying Social Work.

“This experience showed me that I am determined and capable of overcoming any adversity in my life. The sensation of my future being in limbo helped me find solutions and manage the problem.”

Rose Gonzalez is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego State University. She is studying Criminal Justice.

“I have learned through this experience not to take my education and the opportunities offered to me for granted, such as my Guardian Scholars and Words Alive Westreich Scholarships. I am committed to succeeding in my academic work.”

Diana Gonzalez-Soto is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego City College. She is studying English.

“I learned that I possess the skills of leadership, advocacy, communication, collaboration, determination and resilience. I believe my story is unique, I know my experience is not common. This experience taught me that all my roles in society, student, mother, social justice activist, give me the qualifications to help build a better world and pave the way for the next generation.”

Ulises Izucar is a returning scholar and a student at Point Loma Nazarene University. He is studying Graphic Design with an Illustration Concentration.

“I learned how to handle myself better and how to reach out to friends and mentors. I learned to speak up and ask for help when I need it and not to be ashamed of it.”

Brittany Jackson is a returning scholar and is pursuing her Masters at the University of San Diego. She is studying School Counseling, PPS.

“I grew up in an environment that glorified gangs and drugs over an education… An education taught me critical thinking skills I need to succeed, not only in school, but also in life. For example, school taught me that I have an aptitude for helping others, and I am happiest when I am doing so.”

Lexi Martinez is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego State University. She is studying Social Work.

“One resource provided by the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship that I am eternally grateful for is our mentors. At this point in my semester I turned to Sarah, my amazing mentor, for guidance… With Sarah’s help we made a set of guidelines for a more successful semester.”

Itzel Nuñez is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego City College. She is studying Administration of Justice/Paralegal.

“This experience taught me an important life lesson: to take risks on opportunities even though I believe I am not qualified.”

Janett Penaloza is a first-year scholar and a student at San Diego City College. She is studying Counseling and Therapy.

“There are too many youth in the neighborhood who feel and believe they are alone in their struggles. They are not. This is why I must give back and be a part of society to make a positive change. I have persevered, I am motivated, I am focused, I believe in myself because education had taught me that knowledge is power and that power is a positive change.”

Daimeon Rodriguez is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego City College. He is studying Software and Computer Engineering.

“I believe I have improved and have more purpose moving forward to a bright, happy, prosperous future with whatever comes my way.”

Esther Servin is a first-year scholar and a student at Palomar College. She is studying Mechanics.

“I had an epiphany and realized that the things that I wanted to do were not a smart way to move forward and that I had to do something so that my children could gain more than street life knowledge… I learned that attending school could get me out of the street life and getting an education could help my community.”

Lanyra Smith is a first-year scholar and a student at San Diego City College. She is studying Psychology.

“I am firmly committed at this point to pursuing a career in the field of psychology… I know that I am passionate about mental health and dedicated to giving back to my people and my community.”

Antonise Stewart is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego City College. She is studying Information Security.

“It may be scary, I may stumble along the way but I can’t always waste my life worrying about the what ifs. Helping that student, I acknowledged that fear was my weakness and once knowing that I can grow from this flaw to become a stronger, better me.”

Andrea Vasquez is a first-year scholar and a student at Grossmont. She is studying Biology.

“I know that becoming a doctor won’t be easy, but I also know that it can be done if I am committed to accomplishing my goal… This entire process will take quite some time but I’m ready to go through with it until the very end if it means making myself, my sisters, and, most importantly, my mom proud.”

Domminiece Willis is a returning scholar and a student at San Diego State University. She is studying Child Development.

“I have grown to learn that despite my hardships, I have achieved so much greatness. The odds have been against me, and I have overcome them…My sun will always shine at the end of the rainstorms and the greater my struggles, the more glorious my triumphs will be.”

To recognize the 2019-2020 scholarship recipients, Words Alive will host its annual Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Awards Ceremony from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4 at San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd. in downtown San Diego. Mark your calendars and join us in celebrating these incredible scholars!

WAWS Spotlight: Ulises Izucar!

An image of Ulises at the 2018 WAWS Scholarship Award Ceremony.

An image of Ulises at the 2018 WAWS Scholarship Award Ceremony.

Ulises was born in Jonacatepec, Mexico. He is a first generation college student attending Point Loma Nazarene University and is studying Graphic Design. In his free time, he likes helping out at Rollin' From The Heart. Ulises is an artist and will be debuting his work at the Words Alive Art & Literacy Event on June 5th from 6-8pm at the San Diego Art Institute. Join us in this celebration of magical things that can happen when we use books to inspire the artist in all of us!

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.

Let’s hear more from Ulises!

Name: Ulises Izucar

Age: 19

College: Point Loma Nazarene University

Degree (with area of study): Graphic Design

High School: Monarch

Mentor: Jess Fryman

How did you first get involved with Words Alive?

I was in a the Adolescent Book Group at Monarch School.

How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

Words Alive was one of the things that helped me get into reading.

What have you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?

Becoming a young life leader, passing macro economics, and making new friends.

What are you currently reading?

Further Along the Road Less Traveled.



WAWS Spotlight: Lexi Martinez!

An image of Lexi (left) with our Teen Services Program Manager Jessica Fryman at the 2018 WAWS Scholarship Award Ceremony.

An image of Lexi (left) with our Teen Services Program Manager Jessica Fryman at the 2018 WAWS Scholarship Award Ceremony.

"My experience with Words Alive has always been extremely positive. My love for reading has been restored since I have been involved with them and I've always found a support system within the organization." -- Lexi Martinez, Words Alive Westreich Scholar

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.

Let’s hear more from one of our scholars: Lexi!

Name: Zaira "Lexi" Martinez

Age: 23

College: San Diego State University

Degree (with area of study): Social Work

Mentor: Sarah Beauchemin

How did you first get involved with Words Alive?

I first got involved in Words Alive when I became a student at Monarch. Reading has always been an escape for me and after my family and I were left without a stable home when my mom divorced her abusive husband, Words Alive provided an escape for me. I loved all the books we read, the discussions, and finding out which book we were going to read next. Once again, books became an escape for me and I loved being a part of a community of open and like minded individuals. 

How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

Looking back and reflecting on where I am, Words Alive has positively affected my academic career in many ways. In high school there was a time where I did not see myself going to college or making improvements to my life but the volunteers always pushed me to do my best. The books we read were stories about resilience and overcoming obstacles made by others and ourselves. They were stories that were so relatable to my own life and it made gave me the strength to discover a better life for myself. I always felt like I belonged and someone knew how to empathize with what I had been through. After I received my scholarship, I was so motivated to do better because I knew someone believed in me and I did not want to disappoint. All of the workshops that we have done have taught me life skills and my meetings with my mentor are outings that I anticipate so I can tell Sarah all of my plans and exciting news that happened that month. I am so proud of the person that I have become with the help of my Words Alive family. 

What have you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?

This year I have accomplished, with the help from Sarah, a more organized academic schedule which includes writing more in my planner, forming professional relationships with my professors, living a healthier lifestyle, and working on self-care. We made this plan in the beginning of the semester and I feel like a better person. I no longer stress too much from my heavy course-load because of how evenly distributed it is. I also have much more time to dedicate to myself and my family. 

What is your favorite college memory so far?

My favorite college memory is transferring from San Diego City College to San Diego State University. Until a few years, higher education was not even on my radar but now I am in my dream program enjoying all the possibilities laid out in front of me and it is overwhelming in the best way. I can't even imagine where I would be had I not come to Monarch and been a part of Words Alive. 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I watched one episode of the show and I was so enthralled by it that I wanted to read the book first. 


Learn more about the WAWS program here and donate today to help us keep this scholarship going!

 

WAWS Evaluation Finding #8: "I believe in my future."

A group photo of our scholars at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony.

A group photo of our scholars at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony.

To continually provide meaningful and evaluation-driven programming, Words Alive commenced on a seven-month Dialogues in Action (DIA) project to analyze the impact of our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program using a blended qualitative and quantitative evaluation model. Through this process, we had an opportunity to view our program through the lens of the scholarship recipients, past and present, and their mentors to determine opportunities to enhance our program delivery.

Throughout this process, we identified eight findings and then brainstormed ways we could update and improve the program based on these findings. Here is the eighth and final finding!

"I believe in my future."

All scholars in the program are graduates of Juvenile Court & Community Schools, which serves a student body experiencing extraordinary challenges such as juvenile delinquency, homelessness, community violence and/or teen parenting. Because of this, they are often focused on the present, getting through day-by-day and making sure their basic, immediate needs are met. Through our interviews with participants and mentors, we found that many of the scholars made clear connections between participating in the program and a discovered or renewed focus on their future. In fact, 92% of the students said they now feel more hopeful about their education and future.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances these students come from, scholars often felt as if they were not in control of their own lives but were instead trapped by their upbringing and environment. However, we found that after participating in the program, the financial, mentor and professional development aspects of the program have helped scholars believe in themselves, their futures and their abilities — creating a sense of agency over their personal and academic trajectory. This translates to students taking action toward improving their future.

 After participating in the program,

  • 85% of scholars said they now use coping strategies to address challenges they face

  • 85% of scholars said they now take action steps toward the goals they set

  • 100% of scholars said they the now take advantage of academic, professional and community resources

Mentors recognize this growth too:

“I think she sees each of these accomplishments as milestones – and they are. It supports her sense of self-worth, value and confidence. For some people, it’s easy, but for her it has been incredibly challenging. Every single milestone increases her confidence. And she’s facing this hurdle now but she’s not going to give up.”

Two scholars mentioned they actively plan ahead in terms of applying for additional scholarships, saying, “I’m saving scholarships for further down the line” or “I’ve been going over my statements more. I figure out when different scholarships are coming in and when the deadlines to apply are.”

“I had never saved money before and the scholarship program taught me how to…I’m planning on buying a house. Not anytime soon but hopefully in 10 years or so,” another scholar said. “I have the skills to save money now and the motivation to buy a house.” – Scholar, age 24

This same scholar, when asked about how she dealt with challenges, such as persistent mental health issues, throughout her college career said, “I realize I have to focus on my future. The depression and PTSD were because of my past experiences. I learned that I could change things now, so I won’t be in the same situation later on. I need to believe in my future.”

Significance

At Words Alive, we want participants in all of our programs to become advocates for themselves and their future, especially so in the WAWS program. This finding indicates that through program participation, scholars are learning to proactively contribute to their own personal development by creating long-term goals and that they’re making steps towards meeting them. This is not only significant to the individual student but to the larger community. By becoming individuals who are no longer just getting by day-by-day, they are prepared to contribute to local economies, culture, politics, and to help their communities thrive.

Learn more about the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship here!


WAWS Evaluation Finding #7: The Mentee Becomes the Mentor

An image of three of our scholars, Zaphire, Domminiece, and Lexi, standing together at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony.

An image of three of our scholars, Zaphire, Domminiece, and Lexi, standing together at the 2018 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Award Ceremony.

To continually provide meaningful and evaluation-driven programming, Words Alive commenced on a seven-month Dialogues in Action (DIA) project to analyze the impact of our Words Alive Westreich Scholarship (WAWS) program using a blended qualitative and quantitative evaluation model. Through this process, we had an opportunity to view our program through the lens of the scholarship recipients, past and present, and their mentors to determine opportunities to enhance our program delivery.

Throughout this process, we identified eight findings and then brainstormed ways we could update and improve the program based on these findings. Here is the seventh finding!

The Mentee Becomes the Mentor

We were surprised to find that through participating in the program and developing a relationship with their mentors, our scholars in turn became mentors for their peers.

When asked what they were passionate about, six out of nine of the scholars interviewed said “helping people.” Many of the scholars are pursuing careers such as social work, therapy, and child development with the ultimate goal of helping youth that have similar stories to their own.

In addition, many of the scholars spoke directly about becoming mentors for their peers. One scholar said:

“Now, I pass on the advice my mentors have given me to other people. I’m a mentor for some of the students at Lindsay because I’ve been in their shoes. It’s good to share your experience because they can see a role model and can relate to you. It gives them faith that things will work out… I just try to be a helping person and when someone’s experiencing a lot of emotions I try to be a calming presence like the calming presence my mentors have been for me. I’ve learned to ask for help and people still ask me for help.” – Scholar, age 22

It's clear from this example and others that being a mentor wasn’t necessarily an innate skill the scholars possessed, but something they learned through their relationship with their WAWS mentor. This statement from one of our scholars illustrates the range of skills these students learned from their mentors:

“I valued [my mentor’s] honesty. She would be upfront but in a professional way. I learned how to be that way with other people. ‘Let’s go grab coffee’ is not something I had done before but now do with other people.” – Scholar, age 24

Significance

One of our intended impacts for this program is that scholars form healthy and meaningful relationships with their peers and adults. Because of their upbringing, many of our scholars lack healthy adult relationships in their lives. To see the students develop relationship-building skills and then become a mentoring force in their community is significant because it proves that the scholars can learn the basic tenets of a healthy relationship and give and take in positive ways in those relationships.

Learn more about the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship here!


Finding Your Passion in College

By Grace Larsen, Guest Blogger

Image of a person standing in the middle of a library aisle, looking at a book that they are holding open.

Image of a person standing in the middle of a library aisle, looking at a book that they are holding open.

College can be daunting for many students as there is a lot of pressure to be “career ready.” Words Alive previously explored what exactly that term means, and it entails having the tools to obtain a job after graduation as well as being prepared to pursue apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Of course, all that is easier said than done. In order to be career ready, one must have a clear picture of the future they want to begin with. 

Therein lies the problem: for many of us, knowing what we want to do before stepping into college is far from easy. In fact, according to figures by the National Center for Education Statistics, about 80% of college students change majors at least once. Another study found that students who started out in mathematics and natural sciences are more likely than others to make a switch. Each student has their own personal reasons for changing majors, but a common denominator is that they realized a little too late that their interests lie elsewhere.

All in all, switching majors has its pros and cons. One advantage is that you’ll be more satisfied knowing that you pushed through with exploring the path you really want. Changing majors also widens your knowledge of other areas of study because of the fact that you’ve taken classes in more than one department. However, the biggest con is that your college expenses can very easily rack up. Another is that you won’t be able to graduate on time, and will be spending more time in school instead of embarking on your career. 

This is why guidance counselors and teachers grill high school students about “finding their passion” so early in life: so that they can pursue their chosen fields and stick with them until graduation. Unfortunately, aiming to discover one's passion is actually the wrong mindset. To better understand why, let's take a look at a study by psychologists from Stanford University and Yale University, which points to two different theories. The “fixed theory of interests” is the idea that core interests are there from birth and are just waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile, the “growth theory” posits that interests are something that a person cultivates over time. 

These psychologists explain that students with the first mindset may waste their time skipping opportunities and foregoing lessons that aren’t aligned with their previously stated passions. Also, if a person is told that their interests are ingrained, they may easily give up on learning certain topics because of the belief that these don’t align with their predetermined interests.

Therefore, high school students shouldn’t start college applications thinking about finding their passions, but rather, to develop them. With the second mindset centered on growth, one can increase their knowledge in areas outside of pre-existing interests. In contrast to those with a fixed mindset, they would then form connections among new areas and the interests they already have. 


For a start, Maryville University provides some key pieces of advice on how to choose a degree program or area of study. They emphasize the importance of knowing a particular field’s median salary, projected growth, and the percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually. Information like this can help you check whether you see yourself in a particular field years from now. You can then proceed to researching school options as well as other things like costs and location.

Again, it's important not to feel overly pressured to know for certain what you love and will continue to love in the future. It’s healthier to believe that passion is something that you create. This helps you tackle your chosen field with a more determined approach, and shapes how you will learn along the way. College may expose you to a number of challenges and obstacles, but a growth mindset can keep you focused on building your passion.

Learn more about our work with college students through the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship program here!

WAWS Spotlight: Alicia Osuna

An image of Alicia and her mentor Kerrie standing in front of a sign for Every Brilliant Thing, a play that they went to see together.

An image of Alicia and her mentor Kerrie standing in front of a sign for Every Brilliant Thing, a play that they went to see together.

We’d like to introduce you to another one of our incredible scholars! Alicia is in her second year at San Diego City College studying biology. In addition to being a star student she is a star athlete and a member of the San Diego City College Lady Knights basketball team.

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.

Let’s hear more from Alicia!

Name: Alicia Osuna

Age: 20

College: San Diego City College

Area of Study: Biology

High School: Monarch School

Mentor: Kerrie Libby

How did you first get involved with Words Alive?

I first involved with Words Alive when I was in high school at Monarch. I was in the Adolescent Book Group.

How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

It's been great. I love the support I get from my mentor. I enjoy the activities they have for us.

What have you accomplished this year that you are most proud of?

I got good grades in college. I made it through my first year of college and am now working on my second.

Tell us about your favorite college memory.

In my English class, I had to write a paper on this book I was reading and it was honestly the best book book. Another one of my favorite memories was being apart of my basketball team, they are so great.