Photo Essay: [Proof of Concept]

Ánimo Leadership Charter High School senior Ryan Atapattu sat anxiously in front of the computer monitor. The tempo of his foot taps sped up with each line of text his eyes traced. When he reached the end of the document, he took one last glance at the screen, clicked print and sighed in relief. In just a few moments, he would be sitting down with a professional writer to discuss the first draft of his personal essay for college applications, packed with glimpses into his life story and his dreams.

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Ánimo Leadership Charter High school College Readiness educators Ellie Herman, Denise Amezcua, and Sarah Ducker recruited professionals from across Los Angeles to participate in a Saturday essay workshop.

“We work with our students on their college applications and have a lot of supports in place for students to get feedback along the way. This year over 65% of our senior class is UC eligible,” said Ducker.



“So to ensure each student had adequate time to receive quality and thoughtful feedback on their work, we reached out to our personal networks to be an extra pair of eyes.” The professionals ranged from educators and screenwriters to authors, each using their knowledge of the college system and specialized skills to equip students on their road to college.

Mapping the Way to College

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On the day of the workshop, students were assigned a 40-minute session with a professional working as a writer.Remembering just how stressful the college application process could be, Sarah James, a Los Angeles screenwriter, was motivated to work with students on their writing: “It’s definitely helpful to have an outside set of eyes on your work because there are always things you may not be fully explaining because you live in your life every day.”

Leadership Essay Workshop

At Green Dot, we know the biggest driver of upward mobility is education. With a college degree, 9 in 10 students raised in the lowest-income families will escape poverty. This is why our schools deliver a robust college preparatory curriculum and structured supports for all students, regardless of background.

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“We just want our students to be as prepared as possible to submit the best applications that they can,” said Ducker. “With the deadline a little over a month away, this is the last hurdle for our students and then they’ll be that much closer to college.”

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