Rainier Scholars is a nonprofit organization that serves as a long-term college preparatory program for students of color in the Seattle metro area. Our mission is to increase the college graduation rates for our scholars and to develop a new generation of leaders.
Among the many services we provide for our students and families, Rainier Scholars offers a 14-month academic enrichment program, placement into private schools and top honors programs in the public schools, one-on-one academic mentoring throughout middle and high school, advocacy for students and families, college and financial aid counseling, and mandatory leadership training.
Each spring, we invite 60 promising students of color to embark on an 11-year life-changing journey. It demands hard work and commitment. In exchange, it offers invaluable opportunity. In four phases--Academic Enrichment (grade 6), Academic Counseling and Support Services (grades 7 & 8), Leadership Development (grades 10 - 12) and College Support (postsecondary)--our scholars learn the skills, make the connections, and accumulate the knowledge and experience that will enable them to excel in college and assume positions of leadership as adults.
NANCY VAN: Garfield High School, Seattle
Nancy Van is an only child and lives with her mom who only speaks limited English. Because of this, Nancy has had to step up to a more mature role in the family, showing herself to be more responsible than many of her peers.
Nancy enrolled in the SAT prep course through Rainier Scholars and did not miss a single class. She scored a 1590 on her first practice test, but after taking the real SAT in March, she scored a 1740, increasing her score by 150 points. She ended her junior year at Garfield with a 3.98 in the most rigorous classes she could possibly take.
Nancy attended our inaugural Application Bootcamp in August so she could start the Common Application and brainstorm topics for her college essay. As of August 17, 2011, Nancy had two colleges on her list: University of Washington and Trinity College, which I'd told her about in the spring of junior year. She had no idea what she wanted to study in college. She knew she liked science and international relations.
Nancy attended three of the five senior college workshops, which were held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the months of October and November. During these workshops, Nancy sought advice about her essays and learned about the colleges who sent admissions counselors to these events. She was able to complete her Common Application during one session, and she received valuable feedback about her essay at another.
Nancy was drawn to a small, liberal arts environment, so I gave her applications for Multicultural Fly In programs at Bowdoin, Bates and Trinity in hopes that she could see firsthand what a liberal arts experience is all about. She was accepted to Prologue to Bates, a first generation college student program, and visited campus for two nights in early November. She fell in love with the school, particularly the relationships that students clearly had with professors. Nancy said to me, "It was obvious that Bates students got to do what they loved. The college supports whatever that is and even gives money to students to pursue their passions. I want to go to a school like that."
Nancy returned from Lewiston, Maine, with a newfound spirit to write strong essays and supplements. She met with our Learning Specialist twice to tweak her third and fourth drafts. By the end of November, Nancy decided to apply Early Decision II to Bates College and was admitted.
Nancy is enjoying her first week at Bates and thinks she will thrive in the Bates community!