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I’m Gisel and I’m Going Places

Gisel 2016

With only weeks left until my sophomore year in college, I can’t help but to reflect on how much my life has completely transformed in only 4 years. My name is Gisel and during my sophomore year in high school I almost became another high school dropout statistic.

As a result of a rocky home life, my parents divorced, which left my mother the responsibility of supporting herself and her two kids. Dealing with frequent visits from police officers and the lack of financial support from my father, I almost considered dropping out of high school to get a full-time job, which meant minimizing my chances of attending a renowned university.

With the help of Orange County United Way’s Destination Graduation, I was able to get the support I needed from my mentors and teachers, which ultimately led to me graduating with an overall 4.17 GPA. While that’s enough to be proud of, I was blessed to be accepted into my dream school, New York University, where I’m a double major in Business and Psychology and where I go to college for free, as a reward for my persistence through adversity.

Not only has Orange County United Way supported me in my educational endeavors, but this summer they continued to invest in my future by allowing me the opportunity to intern with their marketing department, where I have already began to build on necessary skills needed for my future career in brand strategy. Aside from the valuable professional experiences, I’m fortunate to be able to work with the same people who helped me in high school and to see the direct impact they’re creating in the lives of other people in our community. Overall, what I’m most grateful for is to have had the opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

Seeing how much I’ve grown and developed over these past few years makes me so excited for the future. I look forward to achieving much more in my educational, professional, and social endeavors. Being that I already took a huge leap across the country, I can’t wait to see what part of the world I’ll be in another 4 years from now, and I’m curious to see what stage in my career I will be in. While I don’t know where I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing, what I do know is that regardless of the time or the place, I’ll always remember that when we forsake the lives of others, we forsake our own. I’m forever thankful to everyone who didn’t forsake mine, especially Orange County United Way, and I can’t wait to pay it forward to the world.

My story continues, stay tuned.

— Gisel

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