When Sofia learned about Higher Achievement during elementary school, she heard about the college field trips, fun activities, and help with academics that the program offered. “It sounded really amazing,” says Sofia. “The only question I had was ‘when can I sign up?!’”
All potential Higher Achievement scholars participate in an interview where they discern whether the rigorous, multi-year program is the right fit. During the interview process, Sofia demonstrated her maturity and commitment and was accepted into the program.
Although her interviewer remarked on Sofia’s outgoing nature, Sofia still felt shy around others. She credits participation in Higher Achievement with helping her build her self-confidence and become more outgoing. “Higher Achievement helped bring out the talkative and fun side of me,” remarks Sofia. “I found it hard to make friends before, but now I am able to go up to someone and talk to them.”
This newfound confidence didn’t go unnoticed at school. Sofia’s guidance counselor recommended that she consider trying out speech and drama. At first, the idea of going up on stage in front of an audience intimidated Sofia. “I could have said no, but I went with my gut because I knew it would be good for me. I can prove to myself that I can do it. The old me would be sacred. Now, I will be nervous, but not scared,” says Sofia. “Higher Achievement helped me put myself out there more. Seeing how much I’ve grown just from being in Higher Achievement is amazing to me. I didn’t think I would get to this point where I could talk confidently without freezing up.”
In addition to her participation in her school’s play, Sofia is particularly proud of her accomplishments on the track team. “In 8th grade, I was invited to join the high school team. Getting to run with the high schoolers was a big win for me. Last year I got a scholarship even though I’m only in middle school…that blows my mind!” exclaims Sofia. On top of her extracurriculars, Sofia has been maintaining her grades and working diligently to turn in all of her assignments to remain on the school’s honor roll.
Sofia is the youngest of five siblings and she is grateful for the love and support of her family. “I’m planning my Quinceañera now, and they’re starting to realize I’m not a baby anymore!” says Sofia. “It’s made my family really proud to see how much I am accomplishing. Making them proud makes me happy.”
Now in her fourth and final year at Higher Achievement, Sofia is considering what’s next. “I’m a very curious and adventurous person, and I find it interesting to learn about the world.” She may pursue an interest in archeology or anthropology, join the ROTC program in high school, or continue her passion for art. “I love all kinds of art and I draw all the time. One of my Higher Achievement mentors, Mr. Dan, said he wants to get a tattoo of one of the pieces I drew!” Sofia says with a smile.
No matter the direction Sofia takes, she’s felt supported throughout her middle school years and as she navigates the choices ahead for high school, college, and beyond. Researching college programs and participating in electives have helped Sofia feel more organized and prepared to consider all of her options with an open mind.
“Higher Achievement has brought out the best in me. Even when I’m having a tough day, it’s a stress-relieving place to be,” says Sofia. “I’ve learned to be more open here. This is a safe place where you can be fully who you are. You’re always respected in this space. Sometimes it’s hard for me to express myself, but it helps that I can trust everyone here. We’re like family.”
Higher Achievement is proud to support scholars like Sofia as they build their self-confidence and live into their talents.