Dell Scholars: Where are they now?

Since the Dell Scholars program began in 2004, we’ve told the stories of many high school seniors just starting their college journey with us. But what happens after that college journey? What challenges do they face? What changes for students once they have a diploma in hand? And what changes for their families and communities, too?

Getting a college degree isn’t the end of the story for our students. It’s just the beginning.

By earning a college degree, our students have unlocked a host of life opportunities through their hard work and grit, sometimes in the face of tremendous personal adversity. The data are clear on how much a college education changes their possibilities. As college graduates, they are three times more likely to move from the bottom quintile of the income ladder to the top. And the odds of their own children going to and finishing college quadruple. For many students, a college degree breaks a generational cycle of poverty and myriad related challenges. It’s a game changer for students, families and society at large alike. While college completion rates for wealthy students have shot up over the last four decades, they’ve barely changed for low-income students, exacerbating the gap between the haves and have nots. [1]

By earning a college degree, our students have unlocked a host of life opportunities through their hard work and grit, sometimes in the face of tremendous personal adversity.

We’ll be catching up with three of our 1,400 graduates to tell their stories. Knowing every Dell Scholar’s personal story lets us effectively guide and help students make their way. We don’t just drop our students off at the campus front door and wish them luck. They receive mentoring and supports –well beyond academics and finances–tailored to their individual needs to help them get to and through college. Many juggle financial and other family responsibilities with rigorous studies, all while adjusting to life on campus.

Ensuring more low-income students make it through college is work that happens person by person. Our alumni stories show us the ripple effects that can emanate when just one person’s path changes. Dell Scholar alum Sergio Silva (San Diego State University, 2008) mentored his younger sister and a fellow Colombian immigrant friend through college. Vi Nguyen (Yale University, 2011) has coached a slew of younger cousins through the financial aid and college-admission process. Donalyn Allen (Stephen F. Austin State University, 2011) has started a fledgling mentorship program with students in the afterschool program she once attended in her hometown of LaPorte, Texas.

Stay tuned to hear our Dell Scholar alumni talk about where they are now. And, perhaps even more importantly, where they’re headed.

[1] The Pell Institute, “Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States,” 32