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How the Johnson Scholars Program Changed My Life

The following is an essay written by a graduating senior in the Johnson Scholars Program, a college readiness program that is a partnership between the School District of Palm Beach County, Take Stock in Children Palm Beach County and the Johnson Scholarship Foundation. We will feature other student authors in the coming weeks.

The thought of entering high school petrified me; thousands of thoughts raced through my mind which caused my heart rate to escalate. With no one to turn to for guidance, I felt deeply lost and had no clue what to expect. All due to the fact that, neither of my parents had the opportunity to finish college. I viewed being the first generation as some type of tormenting curse. My dad was my only hope after my mom passed away. Sadly he had very little time for me because he was always working two jobs to keep our family stable. I was unaware of all the vast amount of opportunities out there and thought I had to figure out this high school and college process on my own. One day a magnificent opportunity crossed my path.

Johnson Scholars Santaluces portfolio bindersI applied to the Johnson Scholars program and was accepted. Johnson Scholars has truly changed my life in a beneficial way. I will be a first-generation high school graduate in my family to attend college. The Johnson Scholars Program has provided me with a free portfolio to keep all the information and worksheets given to me. I thought the portfolio was just a waste of time and space, but it has truly incrementally improved my organization skills throughout these past four years. Additionally, during each after-school and lunch meeting the Johnson Scholars staff has always provided me with encouraging pieces of advice and helpful handouts from how to remain debt free to valuable interview tips. All these factors are how the Johnson Scholars Program has equipped me to be college ready.

Johnson Scholars logoThe moment I became a member of this program they have cared for my academics as much as I do and want nothing but the best for my future. I have been exposed to a surplus of opportunities because of the Johnson Scholars Program. The splendid opportunities they offer include ACT/SAT prep workshops, financial aid workshops, free college tours, and much more. If one were to run out of school fee waivers for taking the ACT/SAT, they pay for the test because they want to see individuals succeed. In addition, the staff always checks up on how I am doing in my classes and provide me with help if needed. The inspirational after-school activities have opened up my eyes, allowing me to become a better version of myself. There is no possible excuse for why I should not be college ready after being a part of this great influential program.

Being a part of the Johnson Scholars Program is not just about the scholarship money to me. It is about how my mindset has changed drastically from the beginning of my freshman year to now. All the techniques and resources they have revealed to me have all played a major part in equipping me to be college ready. I have taken every part of it into consideration and will continue to do so in the future. I am more optimistic and confident in myself, a future in college, and most importantly my family legacy.  

Maniuka Valliere is a senior at Santaluces Community High School in suburban Lantana, Florida. She is a student in the Johnson Scholars Program, and she plans to major in biomedical sciences in college. Her career goal is to become a pediatrician.