Alumni Spotlight: An interview with IMPACT scholar, Darious Singleton

Darious Singleton croppedDarious Singleton is a graduate of YES Prep North Forest and a junior at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J). We interviewed him about his experiences as an IMPACT scholar.

What are you studying at W&J and what do you hope to do in the future?

I am a Communications major with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. I hope to take my LSAT and go to law school after I graduate. I want to make an impact on lives and make a difference. I plan to run for district representative.

What extracurriculars are you involved in at W&J?

I’m an America Reads mentor. The Washington area is similar to the North Forest area in that it is an African American community that is considered low-income. Elementary kids come to the America Reads program after school to do their homework. As a mentor, I’m responsible for making sure they have the resources they need to complete their homework and to make sure they get any help they may need. Next year, I want to teach some of the kids basketball. I’ve always been passionate about that. I played in high school and some in college.

I’m also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. This coming semester I want to run for Social Chair or Vice President. We do a lot of philanthropy within the Washington community and on the W& J campus.

Tell me about your experience with the IMPACT program?  How did it prepare you to apply for and pay for college?

Mr. Spurgeon (Senior Director of College Initiatives) talked to us about IMPACT our freshman and sophomore year. He told us what IMPACT was and how the whole process worked. At the time, I didn’t care. I thought it was too hard. In 9th grade, I didn’t want to leave Texas or even Houston. My School Director, Mr. Gilbert, talked to me about it a lot over the years. More and more, I warmed up to the idea. I met a lot of the representatives from the IMPACT schools. The W&J representative talked to us about the support systems available to students from YES Prep. Being so far from home and in a new culture, we’d need financial support and psychological support systems.  I applied to four IMPACT schools and received IMPACT scholarships from all four. I ended up choosing W&J because I’d had four or five different opportunities to visit and I had a good feel for the school.

How does the IMPACT program provide support now that you are in college?

It seems like each year, I have some sort of financial or academic issue. I’d go talk to the IMPACT rep in a panic. She’d say: “Calm down. You’re not doing as badly as you think you are. What you’re feeling is natural.” So I think the greatest support is having a representative that is there to talk to YES Prep alumni.

What’s your favorite memory of YES Prep?

My favorite memory would have to be my last year of YES. Graduation day. My class started in 9th grade at YES Prep North Forest, and it was so hard that first year. Everybody wanted to give up and quit. We were doing something completely new. YES was otherworldly. We’d never had homework before. As time passed, we started to understand what the teachers were trying to get us to do. We started doing well and exceeding expectations. Still, I was thinking the whole time, I don’t know if I want to finish. But then, as time went on, I started going places and seeing colleges. I can do this. I deserve this, I started to think. Graduation was the icing on the cake. All the hard work paid off. The tears and pain paid off. To hear people saying I’m proud of where you are was a really great feeling.

What lesson did you carry with you to college?

One thing that I really took from YES Prep was the idea that college was going to be hard. They always told us that nothing that’s worth it is going to be easy. And when I got to W&J, it was hard. It’s still hard. But I know it’s going to pay off.

What advice do you have for younger students at YES Prep?

I would tell them that you have to struggle. There are going to be times when you don’t do well. That’s okay. It’s okay to not succeed at everything. We’re not going to be perfect at everything. But the moment that you give up is the moment you lose.

College is a time to discover yourself. I’m a completely different person than I was two years ago leaving high school. Through my experience at college, I was able to reinvent myself and become a better person.

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