Nothing Can Stop Us - Emily's Story

Last updated: December 5, 2022, at 4:47 p.m. PT

Originally published: October 20, 2022, at 1:52 p.m. PT

3 smiling young women

Emily - Pictured Left

When all young people have opportunities to learn and grow, they change everyone’s future for the better. The YMCA’s college readiness program, Y Scholars, was developed to address inequities by closing the achievement gap for students of color. Since beginning at Garfield High School in 2004, it has supported hundreds of students in graduating and going on to higher education. Emily Rameriz graduated from Y-Scholars this year and shared her story with us: 

It’s been a privilege to participate in Y-Scholars for the past four years. Their field trips, workshops, and summer programs gave me the opportunity to interact with other people of color and grow as students, together. I developed many friendships at Y-Scholars that I will be forever grateful for. This program has been one of the most impactful and important parts of my high school journey. 

Coming from an immigrant and low-income background, educational achievement is extremely important to me because through it I can pursue opportunities to help my family and make a difference in society. My four years at Y-Scholars have helped me do exactly that by supporting my growth as a student. To most of society, education is something that only happens in the classroom, but this program has also helped me develop also outside of it. 

They didn’t just push me to maintain higher grades, they provided tutors and after-school help to do it. Still, these four years of sticking with Y-scholars have been challenging. Maintaining a consistent presence in one-on-one meetings and going to activities such as college visits andsummer programs, and the action of maintaining good grades to stay in the program has been a lot. However, seeing all my accomplishments through this program—like getting good grades, graduating, and earning my associate degree—makes it all worth it. I am so deeply grateful, especially for Ms. Samantha. She is one of the most selfless, empowering, supportive people I have ever encountered. Having a program director like her, someone who genuinely cares for you—not only as a student, but as a person—made me want to stay in the program. As a person of color, I have not always gotten that kind of support. It made me want to do better for myself, because I knew that someone cared for me and my future.  

Y-Scholars supported my development in school, and also in life. I learned how to cook with their classes. I learned how to advocate for myself and others in my community by going to MLK marches and expressing my emotions about all types of political issues. I learned to be brave at the Black Women in STEM debate event. I learned what true love and support means by making such an amazing group of friends within the program and having such an amazing director. Most of all, I learned to never give up. This program does so much more than just help us graduate high school; it provides all-round development which I will forever be grateful to have experienced. 

Emily Rameriz is attending the University of Washington, studying Criminal Justice/Criminology, and is working to become a criminal prosecuting attorney. 

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