I Have a Dream Foundation’s Week of #BMRTakeovers: Chelsea Bueno, College Freshman

By: Chelsea Bueno

This week we are highlighting students from the I Have a Dream Foundation, from middle school to college! Each young person has reflected on why school matters to them and will be sharing their story across our social media platforms. #BetterMakeRoom

A quick selfie on our way into the White House for the “Beating the Odds” Summit. L-R: Dreamer Chelsea Bueno; Karlisle Honore, New York Metro’s Program Director of the Ravenswood program; Donna Lawrence, IHDF president & CEO; and Maritza Guzman, IHDF Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships

My name is Chelsea Bueno. I am 18 years old, born and raised in Queens, New York and have been part of the Ravenswood II program of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation since I was in the third grade.

I just began my freshman year at Manhattanville College. Last summer, I attended an event at the White House called the “Beating the Odds” Summit. The event, held by the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative and Better Make Room campaign, was hosted by Michelle Obama for students who have gone above and beyond to pursue their education. I was fortunate to be chosen to be a part of this event.

At the event, Mrs. Obama and other panelists spoke about the value of going to college and getting a higher education. They also spoke about the struggles on the path through college, but made it clear to not let the struggles stop you from reaching your higher goal. A group of “Beating the Odds” students, who are now in college, talked to us on a panel. They spoke to us about the struggles they encountered, such as being a minority, growing up in a violent environment or being an immigrant, and yet they continued to pursue their education. These college students inspired and encouraged me even more to make sure that I focused on my education and got my college degree. Their stories made me realize that anything is possible regardless of your situation. I really appreciated that they shared such personal information, as it helped motivate young individuals like myself.

Mrs. Obama told us to always ask questions. She told us to never be afraid to ask questions because when you ask questions, you learn more. When she spoke I didn’t see her as the First Lady, but as a normal human being that experienced the same struggles we went through and worked hard to get to where she is now. She told us about the challenges we are going to face in college, such as being overwhelmed with work or not being able to go that party, because you have to stay in and study, but she also told us that when we overcome those challenges there’s this overpowering feeling of joy that makes those struggling times worth it. She also told us to make sure we stay involved and made a difference in this world. I will forever hold on to those words and make sure that I fulfill them.

“Even though I was always motivated to go to college and get a degree, attending this event made me 100% more positive that I’m moving towards the right direction, and I am beating the odds!”

Last summer, 140 college-bound students — including two Dreamers — met at the White House for the 3rd Annual“Beating the Odds” Summit.

When I stepped onto my college campus, the first thing that I did was ask questions. It helped me a lot for my first few days, because I was in a completely different environment and asking questions allowed me to adjust more quickly. Though asking questions was very useful, I still struggled with adjusting to the college lifestyle . For example, I had to remember to check on my syllabus to know when my homework was due, organize my class schedule, and skip fun activities to get my work done. These are huge transitions that I have to gotten accustomed to, and I know they are going to be challenging, but I always remember Mrs. Obama saying that the struggles we go through now are just obstacles on the way to our bigger goal.

My college campus at Manhattanville College!

One way that I’m overcoming my challenges is by putting reminders on my phone about upcoming assignments as stated on my syllabus. This allows me to remember to do my homework, because my phone tells me when to do my work and when it is due. My phone replaces a teacher telling me when to do my homework, which is something I was accustomed to in high school. Another useful strategy has been using the resources that I have on campus, such as using the study hall, meeting every other week with my MAP advisor, and meeting with my teachers when I don’t understand the material.

One skill that I definitely need to work on more is my time management. I have a habit of procrastinating on things that I find difficult to work on, but I am slowly working on it by meeting with a mentor that I was assigned to at my school. I meet with her once a week and she makes sure that I am getting my assignments completed on time. I still have a hard time managing my time, but I don’t let this one obstacle prevent me from pushing forward.

Listening to Mrs. Obama and the other panelists talk to us about the struggles they went through while in college, reminded me that it will all be worth it at the end. This lesson keeps me motivated to finish school and I’m excited to see my outcome, no matter how hard it is to get to the top!

Chelsea Bueno grew up in the Ravenswood Houses and Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, NY before moving to Jamaica Queens, NY. Her hard work and determination led her to receive a full-ride scholarship to attend Manhattanville College, where she has just completed her first semester of college. Chelsea has always been interested in a career in public service, as well as the medical field, and aspires to one day become an Occupational Therapist.