Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” But believing you can is easier said than done without the tools to build confidence, especially when it comes to applying to and entering into college. Luckily, first-generation Brown University student Donald Brennan received this confidence and more—“true grit” he calls it—from Let’s Get Ready in order to help him adjust to an Ivy League college life.

With support and encouragement from Let’s Get Ready Coaches, Donald raised his SAT score 500 points, and eventually gained the confidence to start applying to more selective institutions. “When I received an early decision acceptance to Brown along with a generous financial aid package, I was ecstatic.”

But getting into college was only half the battle. Adjusting to Ivy League college life was intimidating at first. “When I arrived at Brown, I felt nervous and inadequate.” Donald admitted to feeling like his inner city, low-performing high school might not have prepared him for the academic rigors of the university. He attributed his ability to confront the workload to his experience with Let’s Get Ready. “The SAT was something I could buckle down and tackle through grit and the amazing preparation my Coaches provided. I took that to college with me, and it has served me well.”

Donald entered Brown as an education major, but soon changed his mind. “While taking a biology class, I discovered that I have a love of science!” He soon switched his major to biology with a concentration on microbiology and immunology, a challenge he took on despite a relatively weak math and science background from his low-performing school. “Competition for good grades in these classes has been stiff because they are populated mostly by pre-med students. But the grit I took from Let’s Get Ready has helped me push myself to get A’s.” He remains happy with his decision.

Donald credits some of his success to the support he continues to receive from the program during his time at Brown, and recently decided to pay his experience forward by serving Let’s Get Ready as a Coach and Site Director in Providence. “I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with my students. I know what they need and how to give it to them. It feels great to see them get into college.” Donald adds, “But the best part is getting to know the students, developing friendships with them while also acting as their mentor.” Donald’s grit has proven contagious, as he continues to excel in his studies while giving his younger counterparts a leg up.