KIPP Indy alumni discuss their time at KIPP and how KIPP Through College supports them as they navigate high school and prepare for college.
Isabella, Tatiana, Ronasiea, and Santeianna are all KIPP Indy alumni who are beginning their senior year at various public and private high schools across Indianapolis. Even though they no longer see each other on a daily basis, the bonds that they created at KIPP remain strong and they all still have the same goal: to graduate from college. KIPP Indy’s KIPP Through College team exists to ensure they reach this goal. KIPP Through College counselors supported each of them and their families to enroll in their best-fit high schools and continue to collaborate with them as they prepare for college.
Why did you first come to KIPP Indy?
Ronasiea: I used to go to a school where I wasn’t learning at all. We really only did math, and even then, if I fell behind nobody seemed to care. When I got in 7th grade, I was behind a lot of the other kids. My mom heard about KIPP and we thought it would get me caught up before I went to high school.
Santeianna: I heard about it through my cousin who told me about the end of the year field trip. I had never really traveled outside of Indiana and I couldn’t believe there was a school that cared about me seeing other places and cultures.
How did you feel when you first started school at KIPP?
Santeianna: Our teachers actually cared about us, and it made the students care about themselves and their futures. I am at my high school today because of them.
Tatiana: I honestly didn’t like it or want to be here at first. My mom used to work here and wanted me to come here. Over time, I grew to love it and it turned out to be really good for me. The people around me made sure that I learned and I started to feel comfortable. If I didn’t go to this middle school, I would have never gone to the high school that I did and I would have never believed I could go to college.
How is KIPP Indy different than the schools you attended before coming here?
Isabella: Even before eighth grade, they talked to us about college all the time. This isn’t the case at other schools.
Tatiana: You can just tell our teachers care. This school is smaller than my other schools and I think that makes a big difference. I felt like people didn’t know me at my other schools. Here, we were in a community and I have relationships with every single teacher and still stay connected to them.
Ronasiea: My other schools only called home for negative things but KIPP called my mom all the time for good things. Teachers appreciated all of the small things we did, so it made me want to do good things!
What have you learned from the KIPP Through College team about college that you didn’t know before?
Santeianna: I feel like I know so much about colleges now thanks to KIPP. I didn’t know my options before, but now I know the different majors that colleges have and what kinds of jobs I can get. We also learn about the cost and financial aid. I would not have tried to go to college before because I didn’t know what my options were for affording college. Now, I know I have options.
How have you changed since first coming to KIPP?
Santeianna – I wouldn’t have motivation to go to college if it weren’t for KIPP. Now I have a goal in the back of my mind that I’m always working towards.
Ronasiea: Before I came to KIPP, I used to have really bad behavior. I had a terrible attitude problem and never listened to anyone. When I first came to KIPP, I got in trouble for talking and Ms. Johnson sent me out. I yelled at her that she didn’t care about me. That was where my anger came from, from feeling like nobody cared about me. But Ms. Johnson, she took the time to really talk to me and work with me and now I have changed my attitude. I know that my teachers care about me and my future.
Tatiana: My attitude has really changed. My whole mentality about life and the importance of school has changed. I have goals and I know how academics and college will help me get there. KIPP really changed me.
Who was your favorite teacher at KIPP and why?
Tatianna: Mr. Perry was my favorite! He taught me a lot. Most of what I know from math I learned from him, even today in high school. I still have the color-coded notes that he gave us in eighth grade and I pull them out all the time. He taught us songs that helped make math easy to remember and fun to learn.
Santeianna: I’m in math class now still singing those songs! Mr. Perry was one of my favorite teachers, too. Outside of math, we had a lot of real world situations that we learned about. I also loved life skills class, I remember my teachers told me, “begin with the end in mind.” That’s still my favorite quote and I live my life by that advice.
What did you learn this summer at the KIPP Through College workshop?
Ronasiea: I learned websites I can go to in order to learn about colleges. I know now how to make a realistic list and figure out colleges that would be a good fit for me.
Tatiana: I knew about reach, target, and safety schools but now I have a set list of what those schools are for me. I know exactly what colleges I will apply to and the timelines for the applications. I’m also leaving with a draft of my personal statement and an idea of what makes for a strong application.
What are your plans for after high school? What do you need to do to accomplish those plans?
All: College! Bachelor degrees, most definitely.
Santeianna: I’m not going to stop there! I want my masters, my doctorate! Just keep learning.