Two high school seniors from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach visited the White House for the first lady’s Beating the Odds Summit on behalf of ACCESS College Foundation.
Michaela K. Bradley, 18, from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach and Summer L. Trzcinski, 18, from Oscar Smith High School were selected for their outstanding work and higher education goals.
The ACCESS College helps make college possible for low-income students in 29 South Hampton Roads high schools.
Beating the Odds Summit, hosted by Reach Higher, brought together 130 college-bound high school graduates from the class of 2015 from all over the country to the White House for a celebratory event with first lady Michelle Obama. They engaged in resource-rich panels and discussions on topics like how to get academic support in college, how to form strong networks at school and how to attain a sense of “career fluency” to figure out opportunities.
Both Bradley and Trzcinski have compelling stories and are the first generation in their families to go to college.
Bradley said her passion is to reform the foster care laws to give more support to children who age-out of the system. She lost her parents when she was four and entered the foster care system. She has personally experienced the same hardships foster kids experience once they turn 18. She hopes that with a law degree she can advocate for those who do not have a voice.
As a first generation college student, Michaela said, “I am a young African-American female, and I have chosen to rise above the adversity and bad judgments that have come my way to help guide foster youth after aging out of the system.”
Bradley is enrolled at Commonwealth University and is pursuing a major in pre-law and political science.
Trzcinski comes from a single-parent household where money for college was not available, despite being an accomplished culinary student with a 4.24 GPA. She also served in student government and played varsity volleyball. Trzcinski said she wants to be a high school culinary instructor after college.
“With my culinary degree, I want to join the fight to stop world hunger, because no one should have to go to bed with an empty stomach,” Trzcinski said. “I’m ready to start college with a new list of aspirations, and I won’t be letting anything get in my way.”
Trzcinski is enrolled at Johnson & Wales University and is pursuing a major in culinary arts.
The Access College Foundation (www.accesscollege.org) provides a path for students who may not have the opportunity to attend and complete college. Access College Foundation, with offices at 7300 Newport Avenue in Norfolk, has leveraged nearly $500-million in financial aid and scholarships, as well as offered guidance and support, to help 50,000 students achieve their higher education goals for over 27 years. Access President Bonnie Sutton can be reached at 757-962-6113.