In 2012, DRW partnered with the Noble Network of Charter Schools to support a high school in the Homan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Since then, two classes of scholars have graduated from DRW College Prep, the majority of whom are continuing their education at colleges and universities across the U.S. We spoke with an alumna currently attending Washington University in St. Louis on a full scholarship about her experience at DRW College Prep.
My first day at DRW College Prep was both difficult and exciting. I was entering a new school with very high expectations and a much steeper learning curve than my middle school. Instantly, I saw a building full of adults that actually cared about the well-being of every student. In high school, it’s important to develop strong study habits and I did my best to start right away. I studied hard, as I knew it becomes harder to raise your GPA as you progress through high school. I gained confidence and started to get involved in the school community. Peer Mediators, Gay Straight Alliance, Poetry Club and National Honor Society were all places where I gained momentum.
I spent a lot of time participating in the Peer Mediator program. It allowed me to contribute directly to the school community in a way that was visible and measurable. I established a core community in this program and we grew really close over the years. As a team, we also organized a large peace march in our neighborhood. It brought peer mediators, students, teachers and administrators closer together as we shared a common message. The experience was invigorating and inspirational.
As I make my way through my first semester of college, I think back on the relationships I shared with my teachers at DRW College Prep. My history teacher in particular will always be very important to me. The class wasn’t easy, but he always showed his humanity and understood that sometimes things happen in life. He held us to high, yet reasonable standards. In the two years I knew him, he helped me through a lot.
My college experience so far has been rigorous, but I still feel supported. The small community I’ve developed here in St. Louis has helped with the transition. I continually develop my study habits and adjust to the college schedule and workload. I learned in high school how important it is to reduce your own stress and take time for yourself, but not to slack off. I’ve been able to practice this, as the school has a vast amount of support and opportunities available. I’ve gained a lot of independence in the last few months, and have confidence and control in the direction my life is heading.