Meet Vivien – Part 2

Last week, we shared Part 1 of Vivien’s story. Vivien grew up in City Heights, San Diego, and participated in Reality Changers as a high school student. She was determined to be the first in her family to go to college.

You can support students like Vivien on their college journeys. Donate today.

In 2017, as Vivien’s senior year at Patrick Henry High School was drawing to a close, she began preparing for college. Her plans were upended, however, when she got some unexpected news. 

“I had gotten accepted to SDSU. I had put down my fees and everything for the dorm. I had met my roommates. But, at the last minute, I failed an AP class and SDSU rescinded my admissions. I was completely embarrassed when I got that letter. I had such high expectations of myself. It was really rough.”

Despite the setback, Vivien didn’t give up on her dream.

“My Reality Changers’ coach at the time was like, ‘We’re gonna get you ready for community college.’ He sat me down and we set my course load. So, I started taking classes right after I graduated high school, right off the bat. It was senior year and people were going on summer break, but I was starting college already.”

During her two years in community college, Vivien stayed committed to her goals. She came in to the Reality Changers office every week to study and work towards transferring to a four-year university.

“Reality Changers helped me throughout my transfer process. It was a really critical time in my life where I really needed help. I had to do internships, I had work, I had school. I really had to prove to myself, as well as to admissions officers, that I was capable of doing this. It was very intense and a lot of reflection was happening, but it was super important. It definitely taught me a lot about myself and how to be independent, how to be a self-initiator, how to really just work hard.”

Vivien’s determination paid off. Last year, she started as a junior at UC San Diego.

“When I got the acceptance letter to UCSD, I ended up sobbing. I was like, ‘oh my god I can’t believe I’m in!’”

Vivien is currently a Political Science major at UC San Diego. She plans on graduating this spring.

“Right now, in this present moment, I’m proud of where I am. I’m proud of being a first-generation college student. If you had told me in high school that I would be at UCSD, on a full-ride, living in La Jolla on my own, having had all of the opportunities that I’ve had, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of Vivien’s college experience at UCSD has been different than what she expected. But her experiences have taught her that challenges can be met and overcome.

“There’s definitely days where I just feel like, ‘this is really challenging, maybe I’m not cut out for it.’ In college, at UCSD, I feel that constantly. But everything happens for a reason. If you put in the work, you’re gonna see the results that you want.”

Throughout the ups and down, Reality Changers has been with Vivien every step of the way.

“I reach out to Reality Changers pretty frequently. They are always there. I just reach out to them whenever I need help on my resume, or help on a grad school application, or whatever. Due to COVID, I moved back home for a little while. I would ask, ‘How do I adjust to living with my family? How do I create boundaries without being hurtful?’ Reality Changers provides a lot of emotional support, which is super great. They are always an ear to listen. I really appreciate that.”

You can ensure that students like Vivien get the support they need to overcome challenges and keep going. Make a donation today to provide these vital programs to young people.

Together we can persevere.


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