GREEN BAY, Wis. — Students across the state are days away from heading into the new school year.
Alejandra Romero is one of those students ready to start her senior year at East High School in Green Bay. Of course, it has been a long road to get so close to a milestone significant for so many, especially as a first generation Mexican-American, Romero’s excitement is just little more evident.
“I think what I’m looking forward to is being done with the school year,” said Romero. “Although high school is fun, it’s just been dragged out for too long. So I’m excited to get ready with my life and accomplishing things I want to do.”
Her parents are both immigrants from Mexico who have instilled in her one major goal: go to college.
“I’m really grateful for that, they always told me, 'I don’t care what you do, just get a better education, just be better than what we have,'” said Romero.
Language barriers are a common hurdle to tackle for first generation students like Romero. In the Green Bay Area Public School District, about 14% of students identify as Hispanic, most with similar stories like Romero’s.
“Growing up I only spoke Spanish,” said Romero. “So then going into school I understood English but I was embarrassed to speak English so kind of confused about my identity. It was a really hard time for me and after some time I realized I’m a combination of both.”
Since the sixth grade, this goal of going to college was front and center. Romero joined College Ready, a program designed to prepare students for college with resources, information and scholarship opportunities. Now, with only senior year to complete, she’s ready for college applications.
“Over the years after having to write essays after essays for college ready I’ve gotten a lot better,” said Romero. “So, although if you’re just like me, and you hate doing certain assignments it’s only going to hurt you, not any one else.”
College Ready aims to help students with backgrounds similar to Romero’s in hopes of providing a bit of guidance that others students may receive by default from other college graduates in their households.
Brent Roubal, executive of College Ready in Green Bay, said an added mentor or resource can make a significant difference for these students.
“There are many terms that we take for granted understanding, what is a GPA? what is the ACT test?” Roubal said. “[There’s] so many different acronyms and terms that are tossed around that first of all, many parents don’t understand what that means.”
College Ready serves the Green Bay Area schools for now, but hopes to expand in the near future.
Romero is using her love of music and phycology and plans to venture into the world of music therapy in her undergrad career.
Playing the violin and diving into music since a very young age has defined her passion and career choice.
Romero is one of the more than 200 students College Ready is working to prepare to cross the stage.