Ignatian Social Justice Essay: ISJ/LSA College Access Program

Mar 10, 2022

On Saturday, March 5th, St. Francis College hosted a Financial Aid Seminar for 20 LSA (Little Sisters of the Assumption) high school clients and their parents. In the Franciscan tradition of hospitality, the college offered coffee, doughnuts, and water at the start of the seminar and gave the students a folder, entitled ‘Driven by Dreams’, holding important financial aid information.

Michael Colon, Admissions Counselor and St. Francis College graduate 2021, lead the presentation with support from others in admissions. He spoke of scholarships, grants, and loans. St. Francis and other private colleges offer scholarships making those private schools a reasonable financial choice for low-income students. Michael had filled out financial aid forms for the 4 years that he studied at St. Francis. The son of a single mom and brother to a twin, he was intimately familiar with financial aid and gave relevant guidance on how to fill out the FAFSA form. Melina Gonzales, LSA Community Engagement Manager, translated what Michael said to Spanish. Most of the parents speak very little English. A lively 20 minute Q&A followed the presentation, with Melina translating between Michael and the parents. Jimmy Coffey, ISJ lead for this program, added his expertise to the discussion. The morning ended with college ambassadors giving students and parents tours of the school.

The parents of these talented students want their children to have the best education possible. Melina told me about one mom who wanted to help her 1st-grade son with his homework. She didn’t know English, took the homework paper out into the street, and asked passersby to translate it. Today that boy, now a young man, has been accepted to a private college with a full ride. Both he and his mom came to the St. Francis presentation. Why, you wonder? He doesn’t need financial aid but they wanted to prepare for the time when his 8th-grade sister applies to college. It is a pleasure to work with people like them.

LSA and ISJ have a pilot college essay mentoring program. Jacqueline, a student that parishioner Laura Silvius mentored, participated in this presentation as well. Her parent, like the others, needs translations to Spanish to understand the financial demands of college.

After the seminar, LSA students and parents told Melina how grateful they are to St. Francis College. The LSA administration and we at ISJ are thankful to St. Francis College for hosting this important seminar. We look forward to a continuing partnership between ISJ, LSA, and St. Francis College and plan the next seminar for the fall.

If you would like to volunteer in this initiative please email Laura De Boisblanc at [email protected].

– Laura De Boisblanc