The college application process can be daunting. Researching the schools, compiling the necessary information, requesting recommendations–and don’t forget finding the resources to pay the tuition. Applying to college requires a systematic approach and adequate assistance.
UNCF’s (familiarly known as the United Negro College Fund) Portfolio Project works to increase the number of minority and low-income college and scholarship applicants in Washington. The Portfolio Project provides a 10-week introductory boot-camp that guides 11th and 12th grade high school students through the college and scholarship application process.
Recently, the UNCF’s Portfolio program launched across three sites: in Seattle, Tacoma, and Marysville. Comcast is a proud, long-time supporter of UNCF, its annual gala, and its Portfolio Program. This year, Comcast is also awarding two $2,000 scholarships to students who complete the Portfolio Program.
When we originally prepared this post, it was before a big and horrible day in Marysville. Diem Ly, who coordinates community giving here, later provided this report:
“I don’t think Marysville Pilchuck will ever be the same.”
Danya Juarez, 18, is a senior at the high school its students affectionately call “MP.” She said she came close to joining the lunch period where 15-year old freshman Jaylen Fryberg shot five classmates in the high school lunchroom on Oct. 24, before turning the gun on himself. Four of the students died from their wounds while one survived and was released from Harborview Medical Center earlier this month.
Four weeks after that tragedy, the community of Marysville still mourns, as evidenced by the red, black and white ribbons that wrap virtually every tree on 4th Street – a main arterial off Interstate-5 in Marysville. Those are the colors of MP. It once symbolized cheery high school spirit; now it marks a community in mourning yet unified in its strength to heal and move forward.
Also wishing to move forward is Juarez. She, along with 12 other Marysville-area high school students, participated in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Portfolio Project – a 10-week college application training program that works to increase the number of minority and low-income college applicants.
On Nov. 22, Juarez and other students completed presentations at the YMCA Youth Center in Marysville, marking the finale of the Portfolio Project, sponsored by Comcast. Marysville was three weeks behind the other two sites in Seattle and Tacoma in completing the program. But, the students – a diverse group of ambitious and frankly, pretty funny teenagers – pushed to cross the finish line while the tragedy behind the headlines swirled around them. Some attend nearby Marysville Getchell High School; the other half are MP “Tomahawks.”
The Portfolio Project has been around for years, but this season, it proved to be a haven for the students impacted by the shooting.
Liya Orbeladze is the YMCA site coordinator who hosts the program at its youth center. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, she described, many of the program participants found refuge and support in one another at the center.
“The Portfolio Project has been like a family,” said Juarez of her fellow participants and mentors. “It’s been a way to get passed what happened.”
Michael Painter, 18, is another senior at Marysville Pilchuck High School and Portfolio Project participant. “This program helped just for closure,” he said, “to get back to our normal life. The Portfolio Program was a constant in our lives. It helped me and a lot of people to look to our future.”
“MP won’t ever be the same,” said Juarez, “but I feel like we’re going in the right direction.”
“It’s the support from our long-time program partners such as Comcast, that truly make the difference in expanding the Portfolio Project to serve those students who want to achieve their dreams of going to college,” said UNCF – WA Executive Director Lacie West. “Comcast is not only leading the way in providing services for our community, but also impacting our students’ lives as they move forward to pursue their college careers. ”
“Like most high school students, Portfolio Project students have the normal pressures from school, but they also have to deal with other personal circumstances that make it difficult to believe that college is reality. This year more than ever we saw that with our students, especially at our Marysville site,” West said. “Yet, what makes the Portfolio Project so special is that the students get the support from their peers, mentors, and program staff to persevere through obstacles to make their lives better for themselves and their families. That is the power of an education.”