Making a difference in our country through education
Three years ago, Sybel Francois moved to the United States from Haiti. Her mission is to get the education needed to make a difference. His next first semester at Claremont McKenna College marks great progress towards that goal.
For the past two years, Francois has studied at Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey. His next goal was to transfer to a four-year college, but he felt the tuition barrier was insurmountable. And as an international student, he found that there were few accessible scholarship opportunities.
But he found hope in the Kaplan Educational Leadership Program. Established by the Kaplan Educational Foundation, the program provides underrepresented students with the resources they need to transfer from a community college to her competitive four-year college. To enable this transition, Kaplan Scholars receive scholarships and living expenses, academic advice, leadership and career coaching.
In December of this year, François learned that he had been accepted into the program. he was overjoyed. His worries about having to postpone his bachelor’s degree are gone. He also previously intended to stay in New Jersey, but now has the opportunity to attend prestigious universities across the country.
“they [Kaplan Educational Foundation] Not only has he moved, but he has given me the resources I need to continue to achieve my goals of living the life I want,” said François. But they made it possible.”
The months after he was accepted into the program were busy as he navigated the transfer application process. It was difficult, but achievable with the support of the Kaplan Educational Foundation. François regularly worked with writing coaches and sought guidance from advisors.
He also found motivation through the community of Kaplan Leadership Scholars. His cohort encouraged each other while applying to school and celebrated when decisions were made. One of his fondest memories of François’ program is finally meeting his fellow scholars in person at a New York retreat after months of online-only interactions.
At CMC, Francois studies computer science. This is the area he believes best serves his noble aspirations. After teaching an introductory computer course in Haiti, he was amazed at how much one of his students could create from what he was taught.
“I want to do things that change people’s lives, and technology is the best tool for that right now,” he said.
After completing his degree, he hopes to work for a large technology company. He then hopes to apply that knowledge to the pursuit of his own ideas. He aims to innovate in his native Haiti, using technology as a resource to create new jobs and businesses, and to improve the education system.
“In this country, I was able to find opportunities that I could not return home,” said François. “That’s one of the things that caught my attention in the United States, and I want to help build this community back home. If you’re willing to work, find resources, and talk to people, , you’ll find here things that people didn’t even know were possible.”
Another of his long-term goals is to open an orphanage.
“It’s crazy in my country right now. Gang violence is everywhere,” he said. “That’s why members of my family want to move. One of these things is that if they can find a gun and make money with it, they will do it… I can’t stop gang violence with this project. but I’m sure it’s the right step.”
Beyond academics, he looks forward to immersing himself in campus life. He enjoys meeting students from diverse backgrounds and bonding with them by pursuing their ambitions.
“There [CMC], we live together, study in the same place, and learn more about each other. So those who can see my vision, and I can see theirs, can work together on projects and goals…even after CMC,” François said.
Attending CMC is a success in itself, but Francois is eager to come next. to use his education for good. His dream is that his stories of perseverance and service to others will inspire others in similar situations.
“People have inspired me my whole life. I want to be that person for them,” he said.
Melina Tisopulos is an up-and-coming senior at Claremont High School and a summer intern at COURIER.