Making College an Obtainable Goal

Group photo of attendees and staff at College Summit workshop

Noemy Rodriguez

UNC sophomore Noemy Rodriguez is helping high school students realize their college potential by serving as a mentor in the program that helped her achieve her dream of attending a four-year college.

Rodriguez was heading into her senior year at Bruce Randolph High School in Denver when one of her teachers recommended her for attendance of a workshop offered by College Summit, a non-profit organization that partners with 180 high schools across the U.S. to increase college enrollment rates of youth from low-income communities.

"I always knew I wanted to go to college, as did my parents," Rodriquez, a first-generation student, said. "The College Summit workshop really helped us figure out how to make it happen."

And it prepared her to start helping her peers also make it happen.

One of the organization's strategies is to bring influential high school students to a college campus for four days to get a taste of college life and prepare a personal statement, fill out college applications, identify potential "good fit" colleges, learn about obtaining financial aid and receive leadership training so that when they return to their high schools, they can show their peers that college can be an obtainable goal.

Armed with that training, Rodriguez and other peer leaders spent their senior year at the high school sharing their experience and the information they brought back from the workshop with their peers in one-on-one, group and school-wide sessions.

And as Rodriguez wrote in her profile on the College Summit website: "As a Peer Leader I took that extra step to break the cycle of poverty by getting accepted to my first choice university and applying for scholarships."

After a successful first year at UNC, Rodriguez this summer served as an alumni leader at College Summit peer training workshops, including one for 60 high school students from low-income families in Denver and Greeley held at UNC in June. She also served as a mentor at a session held earlier this month at Regis University, the only other Colorado college partnering with College Summit.

"As an alumni leader, I hopefully inspired the students by sharing my experiences, both as a peer leader and a university student, and helped them with their personal statements and college applications," Rodriguez said. "I helped out wherever I could."

Rodriguez is quick to note that although College Summit helped her achieve her goal of attending UNC, the school's Center for Human Enrichment has been instrumental in helping her succeed.

"It was scary not being with my family, even though they were not that far away," she said. "CHE was my family on campus, helped me connect with people and made the experience a lot less scary."

- UNC News Service

The Center for Human Achievement, part of UNC's Office of Academic Support and Advising, offers advising, tutoring, life-skills training and other academic support services for qualifying first-generation students for as long as they're enrolled at UNC. Often described by members as their "home away from home," the program each year accepts approximately 60 new members, who in addition to being first-generation students, must meet federal income guidelines.Website:

College Summit, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., involves more than 50,000 high school students annually. Website:

Students in the June 6-9 College Summit peer leader training workshop at UNC pose for a group photo along with workshop staff.