MCC News & Updates

College Prep Spotlight: Nyla


Last month we celebrated college week, this month we’re celebrating our College Prep students and their achievements. 

Where do you live, and how has that shaped you?

I live on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, specifically in the Two Bridges neighborhood. I am proud to say that I live in the only neighborhood in all of Manhattan without a Starbucks, which is a perfect symbol of our authentic and cultured attitude here. I have always been here and have only recently seen a major change in demographic and environment, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but definitely something to get used to.

Both of my elementary and middle schools were located in Chinatown and I would consider that to have had a big part in my identity today. I was one out of the 5 black kids in my grade in both schools but it allowed me to experience different types of people and appreciate their culture. In Elementary school every year I would celebrate Chinese New Year with a different type of performance, from a play about the monkey king to ribbon dancing.

I understand that you began your journey with EA as a participant in our Head Start Program. Can you speak to that experience?

I don’t remember my experience too vividly but, my time in the Head Start program has allowed me to have a closer relationship with my community. Every now and again, I see my old Head Start teachers and classmates which is really cool because I have grown and changed so much since then and so have they but we both shared our experience at EA together.

You are the oldest daughter, correct? How have you managed being a full-time student at LaGuardia High School, an older sister, and being active in college prep?

Not going to lie, it has been difficult but extremely worth it. Being the oldest child in my family, it has entrusted me with such a big responsibility to lead by example. Although I try to have a balance of work and fun in my life, it is always important and almost second nature for me to try my hardest at the things that I do.

What is some advice that you would give to other students who are hoping to join College Prep at the Manny Cantor Center?

I would tell other students to definitely join and take advantage of the amazing opportunity that EA has provided. Many of my friends spend hundreds to get the same help that I was able to get for free and I am extremely grateful for that. It has helped me with all aspects of the college preparation process and has made the whole experience ten times better.

Can you speak on your experience with your mentor? How was that helpful to you? Did you find that it was difficult to connect with someone older than you were?

My mentor was awesome. I am so lucky to have had someone that I got along with so well. We would spend the whole time laughing as well as getting a lot of work done. She helped so much with my whole process because she helped it become easier and simpler than I thought it would be. With my personal experience, I didn’t find it difficult to connect with her although she was older than me.

Your college essay was incredibly powerful. Would you be open to sharing what it was about, and how you decided to write on that topic?

My college essay was about how in seventh grade I cut off much of my long yet damaged hair and embraced my natural hair. Looking back, that experience changed my life because it shaped my identity so much. I think it was an important experience for me to share because it not only is an uncommon story but it would give an accurate depiction of who I am to the colleges that I applied to. While writing it, in the many drafts it took, I tried to focus on what I got from the experience and what it meant for me rather than speaking on the experience itself in detail. I feel like with that, the colleges won’t just hear another story but will actually get an idea of who I am.

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