Student Highlight: Overcoming Cultural Barriers

When I graduate college, I will dedicate it to my parents.

In eighth grade, Aubrey’s world was turned upside down. Along with her family, she immigrated from the Philippines, and although she spoke English, communicating and connecting with her peers was a major barrier. She recalls begging her family to take her back to the place she thought of as home. 

“Coming here was a huge adjustment for me,” she said. “I had to get used to a whole new life. Everything from the food to the language I spoke was different, but most importantly, the environment in my new school.” 

Culturally, student life was very different. Aubrey had always considered herself to be outspoken and outgoing; but in this new place, she was seen as shy. She would often find herself holding back on opportunities because she felt she could not express herself adequately, and soon, this began to be reflected in her grades. Aubrey was missing school and starting to fall behind.

Her teachers had previously recommended she take college courses because they knew she had the potential to do it and excel. Halfway into her junior year of high school, Aubrey decided it was time to challenge herself. This was the first step towards regaining her confidence.

“Overcoming this difficulty took a lot of time,” she said. “I became comfortable with myself and learned how to associate with my peers more and joined activities outside the school that helped me build my confidence.”

By her senior year, Aubrey was enrolled in a Fulfillment Fund student enrichment group and was elected as president of the club. Seeing herself in a leadership position helped her feel proud and rebuild her confidence. Soon she was also leading her school newscast and she even found herself writing, editing, and anchoring the news for the entire school.

The people that believed in me made a huge impact on my growth. Their encouragement allowed me to trust and believe in myself.

Before graduating, Aubrey shared her dreams of studying communications to work in the entertainment industry. She expressed that going to college would allow her to grow as a person and expand the world around her. 

Since Aubrey will be the first in her family to receive a university degree, and her parents knew little about the education system in the U.S., she attributes most of the guidance she received to her Fulfillment Fund Counselor and the workshops she attended. Aubrey had even considered returning to the Philippines. But through our lessons, she learned about the opportunities in colleges right here in California and how she could get the financial aid she needed to go. 

During her senior year, Aubrey worked closely with her counselor on her personal statement and joined an afterschool workshop to apply for FAFSA. “I don’t think I’d gotten into my preferred school if it wasn’t for Fulfillment Fund,” she said. 

Currently, Aubrey attends UC Berkeley and is majoring in Media Studies. She is also a Fulfillment Fund scholarship recipient and checks in regularly with her College Advisor. Her first year as a college student was not easy during the pandemic (2020-2021). She was living off-campus and was not quite what she had expected. She likes how easy it is to get in touch with her Advisor and feels more connected because she has someone to talk to about her education. Aubrey says she is happy to have Fulfillment Fund as part of her support system to help her stay on track through college. 

I want to finish college so that I can give back to my family for all the sacrifices that they have done for me. In the future, I want them to have a stable life as they grow older.

STORY UPDATE: Aubrey just finished her first in-person semester at Berkeley. She will declare her major, Media Studies, this summer, and minor in Korean. She is enjoying the independence that comes with living on campus and is doing better academically now that she can be in the classroom. Aubrey is also hosting a Take-Over of Fulfillment Fund’s social media for our 2021 Homecoming event.

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