Three female YES alumni

One of the College Initiatives Team’s goals is to support in guiding students through one of the most pivotal moments of their lives – the start of their first college semester!

During August and September, YES Prep alumni transition to their college campuses to begin classes in the fall, and College Initiatives serves as solid support to YES Prep Alumni by ensuring they have the support to troubleshoot any challenges they may have in their transition to college.

As students step on campus for the first time, all the hopes and dreams that have been cultivated at YES Prep for so many years come to life.

Branda Lloyd

“Moving in was an amazing experience that I would love to do over,” said Branda Loyd, a West alumna who is currently transitioning onto Clark Atlanta’s campus. “I had so many emotions while unpacking all my boxes and suitcases. I always said I wanted to get far from home to learn true independence, but when the time came, I had an uneasy feeling. However, from my family being there helping me set up my room, I knew that they would always have my back no matter how far I went.”

"I knew that [my family] would always have my back no matter how far I went.”

The obstacles alumni face includes the usual anxieties most first-time college students have, from processing financial aid to securing housing to enrolling in classes. However, YES Prep students are additionally likely to have a much different background than the peers that will be sharing a dorm with them, sitting across from them in a lab, etc. With that in mind, College Initiatives does everything in its power not only to prepare our students for the usual challenges but also to anticipate the not-so-obvious issues that College Initiatives helped tackle for students in the past.

Female student sitting on bed in her dorm room.

“I actually got to move in three days earlier than the rest of the class of 2023 because I was selected to be a part of the Women’s Leadership Program (Science, Health, and Medicine cohort) at GWU,” said Man Luong, a West alumna. "Moving in felt a bit nerve-racking to me because it will be the first [time] that my roommate and I meet each other. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me long to get acquainted. Everyone in the program was very open-minded and welcoming, and my anxiety decreased significantly.”

"Everyone in the program was very open-minded and welcoming, and my anxiety decreased significantly.”

Students who are able to connect with other individuals or groups on campus are more likely to succeed in a post-secondary environment. For this reason, a big part of the transition to campus includes being able to have other YES students to lean on, or to be able to feel a sense of belonging with roommates and peers in class.

Female student sitting on her bed in dorm.

“Move-in day was really fun,” said alumna Amya Skyles, a YES Prep East End student who just started classes at the University of Houston. “I was excited to meet new people. My group of friends is very diverse. My roommate is Indian, and my other friends are Syrian. They all speak different languages and are culturally diverse. I have tried so many foods since being here. My roommate’s mom always brings her Indian food.”

“I was excited to meet new people. My group of friends is very diverse."

YES Prep alumni have had an amazing start to the year and are excited to enter their new learning environments. Equipped with a YES Prep diploma, encouragement from family and YES Prep teachers, and the knowledge that College Initiatives is only an e-mail away, YES Prep alumni are ready to begin the next step in their education!


About the Author

Shannen Garza currently serves as the Director of Alumni Affairs at YES Prep Public Schools. Her work centers around working with 5,000+ alumni to increase matriculation, persistence, and college graduation among the alumni student body. She previously served as a College Counselor at KIPP Houston High School and Program Coordinator at Genesys Works working to expand college access for underserved minority students. She holds a degree in Communications from the University of St. Thomas and a MA in Cross-Cultural Studies from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.