I didn’t have $25 to apply to college. I am the 5th of 9 kids. My parents had 2nd and 3rd grade educations and, growing up, I never met anyone who had gone to college.
I didn’t have $25 to apply to college. I am the 5th of 9 kids. My parents had 2nd and 3rd grade educations and, growing up, I never met anyone who had gone to college. When I was 15, my 10th grade counselor, Mrs. Garces, gave me an application and said I should ask my dad to sign it. I then realized the fee was $25. We didn't have the money. I went back to Mrs. Garces and said I couldn't go to college. At that very moment she reached into her purse and wrote me a check for $25. 18 years later, when I was finishing my PHD from Harvard, I wrote an op-ed thanking Mrs. Garces for her contribution. She contacted me and we had dinner. Not only did I go to college, I went to graduate school in England, getting a MA from the University of Kent in Canterbury and then lived in Spain for seven years. When I returned to the U.S., I got a MPA from Baruch College, City University of New York, and a PHD from Harvard University. Me, a poor Puerto Rican gay girl from Trenton, NJ went to Harvard because of a small investment. Today, I work for the largest health foundation in the country, investing in people and communities every day. I recently started a fund at the local community foundation to help poor kids get into college. I called it "The 25 dollar fund" in honor of the gift from Mrs. Garces. Because of her, girls like me can overcome tough realities like poverty, sexual abuse and growing up gay. I know this for sure, there is no such thing as a coincidence, the universe conspires to help you achieve your dreams, and true blessings come from serving others. I believe in being a resource to others and being my best self every day. Because of Mrs. Garces, I was able to create a new reality, defy the odds and rise above low expectations. Today, I work for a Foundation that allows me to invest in scholars from historically under-represented groups, in people like me. I believe