LEAP Voices – A Series of Interviews with LEAP Students: Claudia
JUNE 15, 2021 BY Max D’Amato
Claudia, College Success Program participant, Salem State University (2022) Nursing Major with minors in Psychology and Biology
An interview with Claudia, College Success Program (CSP) participant, sharing tips and wisdom about scholarships.
Claudia is a Nursing Major with minors in Psychology and Biology at Salem State University and a College Success Program participant. In this interview we hear how CSP has supported Claudia’s studies and journey to find the right school through guidance in seeking out scholarships, as well as hands-on assistance with applications.
When did you join CSP and why did you join?
Claudia: I started the College Success Program at LEAP during my junior year of high school. I went to Salem High and I joined because I had no idea how the college process worked. My parents moved here from Spain when I was 6 years old. My parents didn’t know [about the college process] and I had no older siblings to guide me. I joined CSP and here we are.
How did CSP support you in financing your college experience?
Claudia: My situation is very different because I am on a student visa, so I didn’t qualify for any financial aid. The College Success Program was able to provide me with so many scholarships that I had no idea existed and made sure I was eligible and that all my needs were going to be met. I got introduced to the Black Heart Scholarship in London, U.K. and they were able to give me $10,000 for my junior and senior year and then for my sophomore year they gave me $4,000. LEAP advocated for me, they got me in contact with them, they helped me write my essay, they helped me with everything. I can’t thank everyone enough for everything. Without them I probably wouldn’t have been able to pay for college. They provided me with all the resources that I needed.
What are some of the scholarships that you currently receive and how do these scholarships help you?
Claudia: I received the Black Heart. I go to Salem State and I received a lot of money from them. I was able to apply for the Vikings Scholarships with LEAP providing all my references. I also applied for all of the scholarships that I could through my high school that came directly from Salem donors or the high school. LEAP was able to help me with all of the essays and letters and everything that I needed to be successful. My freshman year, I was able to pay directly from the scholarships, I had no out of pocket expenses.
In your opinion, why are scholarships important?
Claudia: I feel like college is just a huge business and I don’t think the prices are fair. I don’t believe in loans and debt and all of that which comes with it. I believe scholarships provide students with opportunities that they would have never had before due to financial circumstances like myself. I wasn’t able to receive financial aid and a lot of people aren’t able to receive financial aid. I think scholarships are just so important for those who need/ want those opportunities, but for whom financial circumstances just get in the way.
What is some advice that you would give to students when searching for college scholarships?
Claudia: I would say apply for everything. It takes time and effort and it takes research but it’s all worth it in the end. I feel so grateful and I feel really proud of myself for putting in that time and effort even when I wanted to give up… don’t give up. You just have to have that motivation and make the effort. The time that you put into it will all come back to you.
Is there anything else that you want to share about LEAP in general, CSP, scholarships or any other financial support around college?
Claudia: I just want to thank LEAP from the bottom of my heart. I could not have done this without them. My situation was so complicated and so different from anything they had in the past so I am just grateful they took the time, listened and advocated for me… I just can’t thank them enough.
LEAP for Education’s College Success Program provides hands-on, personalized assistance guiding students through the process of finding the right scholarships so they can in turn attend the college that is best for them. The College Success Program is available to students in Salem and Peabody from 11th grade until the time of their college graduation. In addition to support applying for scholarships it provides education, and advisory services for career exploration. CSP engages with both students and parents to ensure everyone is involved and has questions and concerns heard. Current high school and college students from Salem and Peabody are welcome to fill out our application. For more information, visit www.leap4ed.org/college-success.