SAN ANTONIO – For many students, college seems like the normal step after high school. But for a lot of families, college is a foreign concept.
The KIPP Through College program aims to instill the goal of college at a very young age. And it even works with students through college graduation.
“My family, not a lot of them go to college or try to finish up after high school,” high school senior Mariah Delgado said.
Other than Delgado’s aunt, Delgado is set to be the only one in her family to go to college.
“I guess I’ve seen the struggles that my mom had gone through. My mom had me when she was 19, so she really wasn't able to go to school,” Delgado said.
Being the first in her immediate family is a lot of motivation for Delgado. She credits her loved ones, but also credits her school.
“There's no other mission but to get students to college and then through college,” said Ruben Rodriguez, director of College Counseling KIPP Through College.
The KIPP Through College program sets up students with classes designed to teach them the process of applying.
“It's not the same as having a set scheduled class for them every single day, or say, your homework is to fill out a college application. That's not things that they're pushed to do every day. But we are,” Delgado said.
But it's not just filling out college applications.
“We start our junior year and it goes into our senior year. This is where we talk about things like FAFSA for financial aid. So we're very well-prepared for things like, even if you can't afford, say, like, a four-year school, we have a bulletin of different scholarships where we apply at least once a week,” Delgado said.
Last year, KIPP graduated 182 seniors, and they were offered $11 million in scholarships from universities across the country.
“I think that all of our students, especially those that we are trying to serve, which is majority low-income students of color, are really getting the opportunity to dream with their eyes open,” Superintendent Dr. Allen Smith said.
The program not only focuses on getting students into college, but also making sure they finish.
“I have staff that tracks every single student that's graduated from KIPP high school,” Rodriguez said. “They visit them on campus. They keep in touch with them about their grades, and check in at midterms if they need support. They connect them with the right people if they need help, renewing their financial aid. We can do that. The school can do that.”
Delgado has thrived at KIPP, and she doesn't plan on slowing down after graduation.
“I've really been looking at Howard University. It's an HBC up in Washington D.C,” Delgado said. “I want to study biochemistry or molecular biology.”