During the summer of 2009, when Richard Jimenez was a rising high school senior, his sister Elizabeth was selected to be a Let’s Get Ready Site Director. Having gone through the College Access Program herself, she encouraged her younger brother to apply, a suggestion that would go a long way for him. At the summer seminar, he learned strategies that helped him boost his SAT score by 200 points. His confidence boosted, he set his sights on competitive universities like Williams, Brown, Tufts, and Syracuse.

Richard, a graduate of Brown University’s class of 2014, could not be more enthusiastic when he describes the way Let’s Get Ready dramatically changed his trajectory to college and influenced his career path. Aside from test prep, he was exposed to an abundance of school choices and financial aid opportunities while receiving guidance on the intricacies of the Common Application. “My college guidance counselor could not provide much information on the schools I was interested in,” he says. “I used the skills I picked up at Let’s Get Ready to learn about and apply to schools I may have not been exposed to otherwise. While most of the student body at my school applied to universities in the city and the state, I was looking at more selective schools outside of New York.”

Richard is part of the first generation of his family to attend college. He is the third of four children born to Mexican immigrants. Because both parents had little access to even grade school education in rural Mexico, they made education a top priority in their household. By the time Richard matriculated, both older siblings had as well.

Richard reflects on how Let’s Get Ready provided a framework by which he could seek out his ideal school. “I developed a list of about a dozen schools to apply to,” he recalls. “Before attending the program, I had a few schools in mind, but it was a small list based on schools I thought were interesting—not much research went into this.” The organization pushed Richard to consider his academic fields of interest and the defining characteristics of an ideal school. That summer, he also worked with his verbal coach on the personal statement for the Common Application. “She helped me take a difficult event in my life and turn it into a strong and convincing reflection of my perseverance.”
Like many Let’s Get Ready alumni, Richard knew that he wanted to coach for the program. Richard served as a spokesperson on campus, spreading awareness of the mission and creating a presence for the organization at Brown. In his Coach position, he was the vocal leader of a student group in a way that previously he hadn’t thought was possible. This new role filled him with confidence and gave him the opportunity to develop a professional set of skills.

Richard proudly shares, “I stayed involved with Let’s Get Ready for so many years because of the impact that I had on my students’ paths to college. I had students discover schools through trips or research that they did not even know existed, never mind considered, as a result of my work. I even had the pleasure of coaching students who increased their SAT scores by 400 points!” He took the most pleasure in developing long-term relationships with his students, who confided him candidly about the struggles they faced. “While it was a challenging endeavor to understand the needs of a group of students, seeing the results of my work as a volunteer has made that effort more than worthwhile.”

Richard is now looking to explore the strategic and administrative elements of the nonprofit sector. After graduating in May 2014, he spent the summer as an intern for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, an organization that works with philanthropists and foundations to make thoughtful, effective philanthropy.