Born of Haitian immigrants and a star student at Boston Latin High School, Sabrina earned a scholarship to Cornell with dreams of going to law school. But once at Cornell, Sabrina realized the costs of attending college were far greater than she’d imagined; textbooks, living expenses, and trips home were beyond her means.
Sabrina faced a dilemma familiar to many talented, low-income students: even the best tuition support may not prevent the derailment of their promising academic trajectories. Extensive expenses, the demands of work and family, lack of health insurance, and other tangential challenges as simple as the inability to afford meals out with friends, cause many gifted students to drop out, never fulfilling their change at meaningful careers as leaders and problem-solvers.
Fortunately for Sabrina and others like her, an anonymous donor was committed to doing something about this pervasive problem.
TPI worked with the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, to create an innovative program to support low-income, high-achieving youths so they can succeed in college and become the change agents of tomorrow.
Through the donor’s philanthropy, the college success program provides financial support beyond tuition, one-on-one mentoring, and networking opportunities so students can enjoy and benefit from their college experiences without constantly worrying about money. TPI administers the program and coordinates its mentors, some of who are volunteers while others are TPI employees.
Sabrina credits the program with helping her through her Cornell and law school educations and significantly contributing to her career aspirations. In particular, the program’s mentoring opportunities have been invaluable. “To have a network of people, both the donor and my mentor, who really care about my success has made this an extremely personal experience for me,” she says.
Sabrina’s mentor has provided her with unwavering encouragement and career connections that would not have been available to her otherwise. Through her mentor, she learned of a fellowship at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), where she helped low-income clients advocate for their rights. “Without my mentor, I never would have known about GBLS, or what possibilities were available to me. And it was there that I learned to use the law to advocate for people who cannot advocate for themselves,” she says.
A graduate of Boston College Law School, Sabrina now runs her own law practice that is dedicated to providing services to individuals and human rights organizations needing legal assistance in the United States and abroad. She hopes to change the lives of the disadvantaged by “helping them understand their rights under the law.” In so doing, Sabrina believes she can not only “maximize the career and life opportunities of everyday people,” but also inspire them to pursue education and create change within their own communities, just as she has been inspired.
“Without this program, many of us students would not be where we are today. By contributing to our future, this donor is contributing to the social capital of the neighborhoods from which we come. He is making an investment in the future,” she says.