In these divisive and not-so-happy times, it's nice to remind ourselves that people can come together and help one another out. One excellent example that might temporarily give you hope for the future? Meet the Pushy Moms, a group of women helping underprivileged students find the right college for them.
At LaGuardia Community College in New York City, many students hope to make the leap to a four-year college or university. But a lot of them don't have the necessary resources or guidance to do so. A majority of the students at LaGuardia come from families making under $25,000 a year, and they're often first-generation, or the first in their families to go to college. For some, English is a second language. They don't necessarily have the same support as other students applying to four-year colleges, and that often ends up making it harder for them to get in.
According to WNYC, Karen Dubinsky, LaGuardia's chief engagement officer, decided to change that by linking up these students with women who had recently helped their own children apply to college, and who were looking to give back. She enlisted many of her own friends, and these volunteer women have now helped about 40 students since Dubinsky started the program two years ago. The Pushy Moms meet with students and help them set application goals, nag them about deadlines, and do all the other things that privileged students might roll their eyes over, but which are actually vital to a successful application process.
In its profile of the Pushy Moms Program, CBS This Morning interviewed Zoraida Colon, a former LaGuardia student whose work with a "mom" helped her get all the way to Smith College. She told CBS that her volunteer gave her
... just the insight to know that I can move forward, and that a lot of times, coming from a community college, you might feel like less than or you might feel like, ‘I’m not prepared for this big private school that has a great name.’ But just support and just being empathetic as well and knowing – but also not too empathetic. She gives you a little bit like, a nudge, like your mom.
And in case the importance of this program doesn't seem immediately clear, according to The New York Times, people with a four-year college degree made, on average, 98 percent more per hour than people without a degree in 2013. When underprivileged young people don't have the same support applying to college that privileged people do, inequality just grows and grows.
The Pushy Moms Program is an excellent start. Hopefully it will motivate more women (and men! Dads can be pushy too!) to participate in similar programs in their own communities.