Name: Aseret Hesse
State: Indiana
University: Indiana University
Major: Psychology, minoring in criminal justice and sociology
Graduation Date: May 7, 2022

It was incredibly empowering to receive the SchoolHouse Connection scholarship and to meet the staff and my fellow scholars. My senior year had been particularly rough on my mental health because of all the instability in my life and I was feeling pessimistic about my future because of it. My self-esteem was pretty low, but when I met the SchoolHouse family, they quickly acknowledged my hardships and celebrated the progress I had made in a way that actually made me feel seen. SchoolHouse was able to help me at so many stages of my college career whether it was FAFSA and other financial aid assistance, advice on internships and classes, or words of encouragement. Their support has consistently pushed me to take advantage of opportunities, even if I didn’t feel qualified or ready. This has helped me develop leadership skills along with task management and communication skills that I know will be useful in my career.

I recently began participating as a Peer Leader through SchoolHouse Connection. Peer Leaders are graduating scholars who provide mentoring to the youngest class of scholars that are seniors in high school. I’ve got a nervous excitement surrounding my peer leadership. I’m so excited to be there for my younger peers and learn from them, but I know how important my role is and I want to do it right. I will be joining the 2022 scholars this summer in Orlando, Florida for their awards ceremony trip and the 2020 scholars in Washington, DC for their DC Summit trip. I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to attend the DC Summit trip as a mentor when it feels like just yesterday I was attending as a scholar.

I received the SchoolHouse Connection scholarship in 2018 and on May 6th I will be graduating from college with a Bachelors in Psychology with minors in criminal justice and sociology. Education has offered me agency, the power to control my life and what I do. I don’t feel as though it’s the degree itself that has done this for me, but rather the knowledge and how I’ve used it. There were so many things about life that other people thought were normal that I really had never experienced, specifically related to saving money, applying to schools, and looking for jobs. It’s been overwhelming to experience so much change; having my own apartment, affording groceries and transportation, and saving for the future were all new to me. I am so excited to be graduating from college and to begin the next chapter of my life.

This summer, I plan on volunteering with SHC and working in the Criminal Justice Department at Indiana University as a research assistant. During the fall I’ll be applying to Ph.D programs in Social Ecology. I also plan to get a dog! I reflect on how far I’ve come so often. The opportunity for education has meant so much more than the degree I earn. The connections I’ve made along the way, all the ways learning has changed me as a person, the new stability I’ve never had, the healing I thought wasn’t possible; I’m grateful for all of it.

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