Aaliyah’s Journey to Spelman College (Atlanta)

Hello everyone,

I appreciate you taking the time to read my story and listening to what I have to say. I am an African-American female attending Newton South High School. I will also be a first-generation college student. My mother is a single mother and it has always been hard for us financially. I have been working two jobs since I was fourteen years old and I also volunteer at Samaritans (suicide hotline) since I was sixteen years old.

Since kindergarten, I took a bus from my inner city neighborhood of Dorchester, MA where the median household income is $42,294 to the high performing schools of suburban Newton, MA where the median household income is $126,649. A grateful participant in the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities (METCO) integration program to expand educational opportunity and reduce racial isolation, I was usually the only black student in my classes. Three and a half percent of Newton residents identify as African American, compared to 43% in my home community.

The environments in which we live and learn are critical to our growth. My single mom, an orphan who lost her parents to heroin and cocaine by age 12, had been on her own since dropping out of high school at age 16. She knew the importance of education from being on the wrong side of opportunity, and she fought to get me into the METCO program. Her hour-long trips to and from my wealthy school in Newton have been just one measure of her commitment.

I grew up living in two different worlds with little opportunity to integrate my experiences. So, it was no wonder that my classmates couldn’t quite relate to the 5 AM to 7 PM days I put in to attend school. As far as I could tell, none of my classmates were financially responsible for essentials like bus fare and clothing, much less spare money for social outings and possessions common in high school circles. Some assumed I lived in apartments. One expressed concern that coming to my house would put her at risk of a drive-by.

After four years of resilience, tenacity, and ambition, I have the honor of mentioning that I was accepted into my dream school, Spelman College. Making my way from kindergarten through High School in a district that is less than four percent black, I learned that feeling like an imposter in my educational environment did not make it easy to explore, much less be the truest version of myself. It’s difficult to be what you can’t see.

I dream of what it would be like to have a lab partner of color, a minority roommate, a professor who may have also grown up in a disenfranchised neighborhood. Maybe I’ll even get to shadow a black physician.

I wouldn’t feel like an imposter attending Spelman. I’ll be surrounded by role models who show a variety of opportunities available to me, a Black woman.

Spelman College will be my sanctuary. A historically black college (HBCU) committed to educating women of African descent in the town of Atlanta, GA. Spelman surrounds its students with love, support, leadership opportunities and sisterhood for life. I choose Spelman not only for its curriculum but, also its beauty, history and its goal to empower African-American women like myself.

Spelman has produced some of the most prominent women in the world today from Alice Walker to Stacey Abrams. It is a blessing to have even been accepted into the same institution as these women; however, now my educational future is in jeopardy. Please help me provide for my future.

Full year tuition is $54,595. Fifty percent of the tuition ($27,298) is due by July. I ask for help by donating anything you can to help further my education in an inclusive environment.

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My name is Aaliyah Jennings and I am a METCO student at Newton South High School, living in Dorchester Massachusetts. After four years of perseverance, determination and diligence, I have been accepted into my top choice of college, Spelman College. Spelman is a historically black institution that’s mission is to empower and produce female leaders of African descent. It is the perfect place for me to continue my educational journey. The only problem is I can’t afford it. The full year tuition is $54,000 and half of that, $27,000 is due by July. I’m here to ask if you would be willing to donate to help fund my education. Best, Aaliyah Jennings
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