Michelle Robles '11
Kingsborough Community College ASAP '11
New York University Silver School of Social Work '13, Bachelor in Science of Social Work
Intern, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research, Project STEP-UP
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a first generation Latino household that valued education highly. I remember my earliest educational experiences starting right at home, where my father taught me to read, write, and sign my name all by the time I was three. My parents felt it important that the start of my educational/academic career had to be at a very good school so they enrolled me in a head start program out of my zone school area. Most of my early educational experiences were in neighborhoods that offered specialized programs such as gifted & talented classes. My parents made it clear from day one that education was important and did anything in their power to put me in good schools where I would receive a quality education.
After I graduated from high school, I decided to take time off from school. After a few life-changing events and the birth of my first son I decided it was time to return to school. I wanted to attain a higher education and a better quality of life for myself and for my son in the future. My father encouraged me to take baby steps and to enroll at Kingsborough. As I went to enroll, someone approached us about the ASAP program and informed us as to what it was about. I quickly decided it was a good fit for me since they promised academic advising, and financial help in the form of paying for books and providing monthly MetroCards. I decided to become an ASAP student because I liked the sense of community the program was building for their students to be a part of throughout their journey at Kingsborough. Being that I was a new mother, and a new full time student, a support system that would be essential on my journey to success.
When I first joined ASAP, I expected it to be a lot of work to meet with your academic and career counselors, and to attend extra seminars/classes, yet it did not prove to be hard at all. Instead it proved to be the challenge I needed and an incentive to stay focused in my academic career and to excel beyond what I thought I was capable of. ASAP provided so many things that I truly appreciated and valued. I was grateful for the entire experience, and I truly valued and appreciated the people who were in my corner the entire way—such as my academic advisor, Martha Greasely, my career advisor, Heidi Yu, and all of the ASAP teachers, staff and directors. I enjoyed sitting with them to speak about ways to enhance my life and my academic journey. I valued the classes they had us attend, and the help they provided with continuing my college journey and graduating.
The most important elements of the ASAP program were the meetings I had with my academic and career advisors, the financial help, and the teachers and staff who were very welcoming and provided loads of support to their students. ASAP shaped my educational career because it showed me a group of people who truly supported my ambition to attain higher education and graduate no matter what my circumstances were and to continue being successful. In my senior year I became pregnant with my second son and continued my entire year, attaining a grade point average of 3.8, attending all of my classes, and doing all of my work. I gave birth three months before my graduation. I came back to school three days after to finish up my last two months of school and graduate with my cohort. ASAP was completely supportive through my entire experience and continued to root for my success when I graduated and received a scholarship to attend New York University for Social Work. I will forever be grateful to the individuals at the ASAP program at Kingsborough who helped me, encouraged me, and motivated to strive for the best.
Since graduating from ASAP, I have become a full-time student at NYU’s Silver school of Social Work. I will receive my bachelor of science degree in social work when I graduate this May. I currently intern for the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at Project Step Up. I facilitate life skills therapy groups for at risk adolescent youth. I also provide one-on-one counseling sessions as well as academic advisement for my students. In the midst of my current semester and getting ready for graduation I was offered a job to be a social worker for a new up-and-coming organization. I have also applied to graduate school to receive my master’s degree in social work within a year. In the future I would like to own and run the day-to-day operations of a practice where I can counsel adolescent youth and families. I would also like to open my own not-for-profit organization that would provide mentorship to adolescent youth and care to their families through community service, in addition to running group therapy sessions. Lastly, I would love to continue my education in social work at the PhD level. I am also thinking about obtaining a degree in public health or law.
In reflecting on my ASAP experience, ASAP impacted me by giving me an essential support system to continue my studies at Kingsborough. I had never received so much support and beautiful energy from individuals outside of my family who genuinely cared, hoped, and pushed for my continued growth and individual greatness. I was always a student who was attentive to my academic career, proving that education was a priority and a privilege. ASAP changed me as a student by affording me the opportunity to return back to school with support and by pushing me to excel farther than I imagined I could, even throughout all of my life changes.
I changed as a person because the experience of ASAP made me more confident, more assertive and truly taught me that whatever I put my mind to I will succeed at. I think that my experience with my advisors made me want to pursue a career where I would be able to help people just like they helped me, which is why I chose to study social work. ASAP helped to cultivate the person I am today and afforded me the opportunity to be a part of a community which really cared to see me achieve my future goals. In addition to meeting my best friend in the ASAP program, I also had a beautiful experience as an ASAP student.