Avery Toledo '12
Hostos Community College ASAP '12
Current Student, Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies, City College
What were your early impressions of ASAP, and how did they change over time?
At first, I thought there was some strings attached or hidden agenda. I could not believe that there was a program that wanted to help me get through college as fast as I could. It all seemed too good to be true. As I went through the program, I quickly realized that the ASAP staff not only had a sincere desire to see me graduate within three years, they also wanted to see me succeed beyond that.
What was the most rewarding thing about being an ASAP student?
Having people around me that genuinely cared that I succeeded. It not only got me through the program, but also helped me evaluate and plan for life after my associate’s degree. I had a burning desire to get my law degree; they took that desire as if it was their life’s mission. They helped me keep focused on my goals and provided me with motivation to reach beyond my limits.
What, in your opinion, makes ASAP unique?
Going through classes with a cohort of students makes the ASAP program unique. As I encountered difficult topics in various classes, I had a group of students with me who had become an extended family. This made it easy to work on any weakness in a particular subject because I knew my fellow classmates. We had a sense of teamwork as we helped each other succeed.
Looking back, how do you think that ASAP impacted your life?
ASAP allowed me to push beyond my limitations and become even more focused on my goals, both short term and long term. I was motivated and focused enough when I decided to finally go back to college, and ASAP nurtured me in this state and allowed me to push way beyond it. I finished my associates in slightly over a year with a 3.9 GPA, but what ASAP really did to impact my life was to help me transition into a senior college. Most students have a hard time transitioning into a senior college. For many it is the biggest obstacle in their academic journey, but ASAP helped me make that transition and prepared me for the next stage of my journey.
What is one of the most memorable moments you had as an ASAP student?
It is not so much the moments that were memorable as it was the people who were a part of the journey, starting with my first mentor, Edwin Diaz, who pushed and challenged me. I would go into his office with ideas of how to continue from semester to semester, and he ensured I understood what I was getting myself into. Berkis Cruz was there making sure that I was following up on goals and plans I had laid out, providing the necessary guidance to make sure I wasn’t getting ahead of myself. Chrystal Joseph, Lissette Jourdain, Irene Garcia-Mathe all advised and assisting me along the way. Moreover, to top it off, the ASAP director Laura McGowan would pop up every so often to offer words of encouragement. My entire college experience was like one championship game, a game won because I had a team behind me.
What are your career goals and/or future plans?
I am currently enrolled in my second semester in the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies at The City College of New York. My plans are to finish my bachelor’s degree and go on to law school in the fall of 2014.