Carolina has taken the lead in a program
that tries to ensure that nobody misses
out on college ‘for no good reason at all.’
by Bill Krueger
Araceli Morales wants to do something unheard of in her family. She wants to go to college. Morales is 17, a senior at Graham High School. Located just a few miles off I- 85 in Alamance County, Graham is full of kids whose greatest aspiration is to finish high school. Some are simply waiting to turn 16
so they can drop out. Many of them come from low-income families where college simply is not a consideration, either because it
seems too expensive or too difficult to get in.
Morales, though, is determined. Her dream school is Davidson,
but she has applied to others “just in case.” The process hasn’t been
easy. No one in her family went to college; she can’t turn to her
parents for advice about what to write in her essay or how to
apply for financial aid. And her parents don’t speak English, so it’s
tough for them to seek help for their daughter.
But Morales is getting advice and help — from Jennifer Alston
PHOTOS BY DAN SEARS ’ 74
It’s Jennifer Alston’s
job at Graham High
to find and counsel
students such as
seated, who want to
go to college but
lack the necessary
support at home.
“I think this is good, but you need to go back and check your
grammar,” Alston — barely out of college herself — tells Morales
after looking over one of her application essays. They are huddled
around a small table in Alston’s office, set up in a trailer behind the
school. College posters and pennants cover the walls.
One of the colleges requires a 680-word essay. Another wants
one that’s only 500 words. Morales can’t figure out what to cut for
the shorter one.