Alexandra Aguilar, Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School Alumna, was part of a group of 2022 graduating seniors, who shared their high school journey and upcoming plans after high school. After much thought, Alexandra plans to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Q: How did you end up choosing Dartmouth College?
A: Generally speaking, I didn't intend to go that far to the East Coast. If you had asked me that four years ago, my answer would have been that I'm staying in L.A. and going to a U.C. college. But throughout the years, because I'm in a program called College Match and, in 10th grade, they were like private colleges are out there. Many are willing to pay you to attend that college, and I was like, let me give them a shot. I was like, you know what, if I get in, I get in, and if I don't, I don't. I got into many of the colleges I applied to in California, so it was never really my intention to go to the East Coast or an Ivy League school in the first place. It just happened to me. I was told that there was this opportunity and that I would probably get in, and you know what, let me take this opportunity. I'm not losing anything. It's not a full ride, but they gave me great financial aid — more money than I've ever seen. When I first saw the financial aid letter, I was like, okay yeah, they were willing to pay for me to go there.
Tell us more about your major? Are you going in undecided?
I went into International Relations because it's a broad spectrum. For example, I could go into politics and government, I could go into business and culture, and I could even go into teaching. It's really broad, and I know that I want to do something internationally. I want to help people worldwide and not be stuck in one place. I just want to make a more significant impact. They asked what major I was leaning toward, and International Relations was my decision. They've given me until my junior year to fully decide.
What are you looking forward to on campus?
School starts September 2, but they offered me a great summer program called The First Year trip. It is an offer for a first-year trip, which means I leave one month before the school year starts. It's an excellent opportunity to explore the campus and activities I've never done. For example, skiing. I'm still going to do some studying, of course. It will not be all fun, but just getting to know where I will live for the next four years. I want to see snow because I've never seen snow before. And it's like, I don't know, I just feel like a little kid, and so it's like, I'm gonna see snow for the first time hopefully.
What makes you most nervous about preparing for this new chapter?
I think I'm going to adjust; it's just a matter of how many weeks or days it will take, but I'm most nervous about making friends because I'm not social. It takes me a long time to get the courage to talk to people. I think making friends is what I'm most nervous about.
How did Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School prepare you for college?
I think, in general, it just helped me in life. I've known Ms. Kristin Botello, the principal, since I was a child because my older sisters went to this school. In general, it [AJR] helped me come out of my shell and helped me be more social even though I'm not that social.
I was that kid sitting in the corner, not talking to anyone. But throughout the years, they offered drama and arts courses with so many great teachers that I slowly began to get out of my shell. I made some great friends. The people you meet, teachers, counselors, and even security guards, are like family. They helped me a lot when I was going through a tough time. They helped me get therapy. They helped me with so many programs. I think I wouldn't have applied to Dartmouth if they hadn't told me about College Match. If they had not said that UCs and Cal States aren't my only option, I could go much further. Since I first stepped into Ánimo Jackie Robinson, my feelings haven't changed. There's no insecurity. It's just a family. Like, I know the people in the main office, and they know me. It's just a sense of a community, not even a community, just a family in general.
Is there anything specific you'd like to share about your experience at Ánimo Jackie Robinson?
I think just saying thank you to everyone. Thank you to my counselors, Mr. Xavier Lovo, Mr. Daveon Logan, and Mr. Anthony. They've helped me so much throughout this four-year ride. They helped me get into programs such as College Match and Students Run L.A. for five years. They helped me get the therapy I need and speak out for myself. They helped me turn this socially awkward who stutters, who couldn't speak out for herself, and just helped her. Like being turned into this independent woman who has a voice and who's not scared of using it. Who is now outspoken about her values and morals and will attend an Ivy League. I never saw myself as the person I am today without Ánimo Jackie Robinson.