Henry Street Settlement opens doors of opportunity for Lower East Side residents and other New Yorkers through social services, arts, and health care programs.
Georgia Soares, University of Southern California ‘16
I had just moved to the United States from Brazil when my high school history teacher recommended that I enroll into Expanded Horizons College Success program at Henry Street Settlement. It was there I received the kind of support needed to prep for the SATs, familiarize myself with the college application process, and go on my first college tour. I also had a mentor at the time, Ben, who instilled in me a desire to pursue my passion for literature. During the summer, I would do community service at NYC public parks and squares through a Henry Street initiative. At the age of 16, on my first anniversary of having moved to the United States, I was awarded both the Posse Foundation and Abrons/Aranow Scholarships. I would go on to attend college at the age of 17 and graduate at 20. So, without Henry Street preparing and exposing me to a host of opportunities, attending college would have been much harder to execute.
While at the University of Southern California (USC), where I majored in English (Creating Writing) and minored in French and Comparative Literature, I faced many challenges, from searching for the ideal career to pursue to learning how to manage a healthy work-life balance. Career-wise, I experimented in a lot of different areas by taking classes that did not directly relate to my major. I also sought out opportunities outside of the classroom to fully explore my interests. For instance, I joined USC’s Academy for Polymathic Studies, a society that enables students to engage with professors and teachers of different fields through weekly gatherings where we study topics from gender theory to quantum physics, with the objective of connecting these disparate fields to our own field of study. I also held different jobs at the university, from serving as a film researcher to working for the Vice Dean for Diversity. Volunteering also became an important part of my professional exploration and personal growth. From high school through college, I volunteered for Reverse the Course, a non-governmental organization that aims to change girls’ lives through the gift of education, and I helped to raise money and awareness towards their cause. Inspired by this and many other experiences, I founded a mentorship program in my Brazilian hometown, which I manage to this day. All these experiences have helped me to discover my true potential, and have provided me with a wide range of skills that have been very useful over the years. I’m proud to share that I completed my B.A. with a 3.92 GPA and an honors thesis. With my all of my achievements, I would be remiss not to acknowledge my teachers and professors who have served as great mentors motivating and encouraging me along the way to follow my dreams and challenge myself.
Presently, I work as an English Teacher in France through a program by the French Ministry of Education, giving English lessons to high school students preparing for admission into top French universities. In my spare time I write fiction stories, and continue to search for ways to integrate my passion for literature and education. In five years from now, I hope to have completed one or two master’s degrees and have gained a wealth of experience in the field of education in preparation to pursue my PhD.
Lastly, I’d like to share some words of inspiration with my fellow alumni: never let your immediate reality limit your vision of the future because you can accomplish anything as long as you set your mind on it.