By: Ana Little-Saña
My name is Ana Little-Saña, and I am a freshman from San Diego, California, studying Political Science at the George Washington University. Like many high school students, I had a natural anxiety about applying, getting in, and — most importantly — paying for college. I was nervous about all of this for much of my junior and senior year, but fortunately, like my mother told me would happen, I ended up where I was meant to be. While the college application process can be long, arduous and sometimes scary, the reward is significant.
The pressure to put together a “perfect” college application creates unrealistic expectations and standards for high school students. Is it fair to expect 17 or 18-year-old students to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives? Probably not, but , we can all take steps to find ourselves, our voice, and our passions even at a young age. My sophomore year of high school, I randomly stumbled upon an opportunity to volunteer for a congressional race in San Diego. While helping out, I found my passion for politics and political organizing. I eventually became a Deputy Field Organizer. I went on to intern at several incredible political organizations and continued to get involved with my local political community. I got involved in student political organizing on the local, state, and national levels and became extremely passionate about expanding equitable voter access and voter registration across the state of California.
At the same time, the looming fear of where I would go to college hung over my shoulders. I felt enormous pressure from others to go to a “good school”, but I thought a “good school” would be too expensive or or otherwise unattainable. Little did I know about the enormous resources available to high school students to pursue their academic and professional development.
“I applied to, got into, and could afford college! I ascribe this to just being myself in all of my applications.”
The summer of my senior year, I had the opportunity to attend Caminos al Futuro, a free summer program at the George Washington University, for students who demonstrated leadership in the Hispanic community. This program was the first time that I saw what opportunities and resources exist for students who looked for them. Later in the fall of my senior year, I attended a free GW fly-in program and decided that if my family would be able to afford it, and if I could get in, GW would be my home in the fall of 2017. Luckily, when March 30th rolled around, I not only got into GW, but was given extremely competitive merit scholarships and financial aid. In addition, I was named a Cisneros scholar through the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute. I would be going to my dream school! A weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I applied to, got into, and could afford college! I ascribe this to just being myself in all of my applications. I wasn’t the perfect candidate but made it known to admissions officers where I fit in the campus culture of GW.
“Just three months into my freshman year of college, I am constantly reminded that I am exactly where I was meant to be.”
Just three months into my freshman year of college, I am constantly reminded that I am exactly where I was meant to be. My backyard is the nation’s capital, and I can walk to the Lincoln Memorial. My professors aren’t just tenured academics, but leaders in their fields. My college experience has become an experience of concurrently studying and pursuing professional development opportunities. I get to go to a school where my Comparative Politics class neighbors the State Department, where pedagogy becomes policy, and where lessons in the classroom are put into effect every day. As an intern for Better Make Room, I love interacting with high school students and hope that many can experience what a “dream school” feels like for them. I am incredibly grateful for the Cisneros Institute and Caminos al Futuro program for the giving me the opportunity to fall in love with the George Washington University. As for what is next for me, I’m studying, writing a ton of papers, and continuing to take advantage of the opportunities I create for myself, and ones that come my way.