“It’s cold outside but it’s warm inside, and I think I’m getting sick,” Yesenia shared. Yesenia is a Y-Scholars alumna and current freshman at Wesleyan. It’s a big move to go 3,000 miles away to Middletown, Connecticut for college and it’s a very different environment from the Bay Area where she grew up.

“It’s a challenge, but a good learning experience and the Y-Scholars Program has helped me prepare for it,” said Yesenia.

The Y-Scholars Program is a 4-year college readiness program focused on low-income first generation college bound teens. The goal is for every Y-Scholar to graduate high school, gain admission to a college or university, pursue a post-secondary education, and with it a brighter future.

She keeps in mind the five characteristics that the program instilled in her.

  • Commitment – Leave the “outside” outside
  • Leadership – Improve yourself, improve others, improve your community
  • Attitude – It’s not if you can, it’s if you will
  • Self-Discipline – Don’t wait for tomorrow, take action today
  • Passion – Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve yourself

She also credits José Herrera Cruz, Y-Scholars Program Coordinator, for his sage advice telling her to get use to failure because it’s an opportunity to learn and improve yourself.

The first set of midterms were tough she admits, but she is bouncing back. She found resources to help her, like tutoring programs, and she made good connections with her professors.

Yesenia also participates in a handful of clubs. She joined Women in Science because of her interest in the field. She’s part of Ajua Campos, a group of latina students that address issues in the community and find ways to solve them, as well as celebrate culture. And she goes with the Wesleyan Science Outreach group to different elementary schools to teach kids fun science experiments.

She’s built a great support system and made new friends at Wesleyan but admits she’s a little homesick. Thanks to technology, she is able to FaceTime her family but she can’t wait to come back home for the holidays at the end of the semester.