College Bound Student
At the end of her sophomore year, Brenda Cachay Gutierrez had the academic chops and the high school counseling support to aim high for college admission, but she felt alone in a process that was ramping up quickly. For most of her school peers, college was a birthright that came with informed parents and extensive resources. Introduced to FCE students during her Facebook internship, Brenda sensed the very thing she had been missing – a community of families with similar life experience and aspirations.
What she found at FCE was a 2nd family and a place where she could voice her insecurities among peers who felt the same. After school at FCE, they did homework, prepped for the SAT, and participated in monthly meetings that included their parents. “We never took college for granted – we were all trying to make our parents proud and move forward in the name of our community,” Brenda explains.
Brenda’s mom and dad found a community of guardians who wanted the same thing for their children, and who were comfortable asking their questions: Why and how do we fill out the FAFSA? What is a liberal arts college? How can we let our kids go to the east coast for college? With all that they have learned at FCE, Brenda’s parents feel greater confidence in their knowledge of the college process, something they are happy to share with their family and friends.
When it came time to make her college decision, FCE staff were there for Brenda, sharing her fear and excitement, running through the pros and cons, and finally pushing her to follow her instinct. “My parents and I could not be happier with the outcomes of my college application process, but I know I wouldn’t have had the confidence to make the Yale choice on my own,” Brenda remembers.
Today, Brenda is pursuing a major in Global Affairs and a minor in Human Rights and takes full advantage of opportunities to learn from impactful leaders like John Kerry and Samantha Power. She remains close with her friends in the FCE Class of ‘16; they check in with each other, and sometimes gather for an East Coast Thanksgiving when they can’t return home.
In 2010, Alex poured two decades of work and education into the formation of Beyond12, a nonprofit that provides underserved students with differentiated coaching and gives high schools and organizations feedback on their college preparatory efforts. In defining her staff, the natural choice for one of her first employees was an FCE alumnae. “Our DNA is rooted in her experience,” Alex explains. “She was such a great voice to remind us.” The reciprocal impact of the Beyond12 – FCE relationships are a part of every FCE graduate’s success.