SUNY Oswego ‘14
“I was like “free tuition? Really?” I didn’t quite believe them at the time.”
Like most other college bound students, Gina was unsure about what the four years following graduation from Henninger had in store for her. She had always figured she would go to college, but where and what for had evaded her for some time. She decided that her first move would be to attend OCC. “Since I had Say Yes behind me, I figured I could start at OCC and go from there.” She commuted from home the first semester and lived on campus the next.
After that initial year, she decided to go up to SUNY Oswego. Gina was slowly but surely leaving the nest. Both she and her parents thought the decision was a smart one: “It was far enough away from Syracuse that I could really start to live on my own, yet still be able to go home whenever I wanted. Living on campus at OCC and here at Oswego, and then living off campus in my own apartment up here has been a great experience. I’ve really been able to see what it is like to live on your own, like paying the rent and bills, and making my own decisions.”
Looking back on her college years brings a smile to Gina’s face: “It has all been better than I expected. Once you get here and are really at college, you see what an amazing experience it is.”
Though the details haven’t always been easy to figure out, like what to major in: “First I was going for physical therapy, but then I changed over psychology for a brief period of time. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do so I called my sister. She was a business major in college and she said I should also go into business. It would give me a lot of skills to be able to have different job options for the future. She has done well for herself with a business major, so I figured it was going to be a good choice.”
The big question, what her plans are for after college graduation, is in the process of being answered. Gina has a summer internship in Syracuse that she hopes will turn into a job. While she wouldn’t mind staying in Syracuse for a while, she does want to get out and see other places. This past January, Gina and a group of friends went down to Mexico on a trip to commemorate their friendships and time at college. “We did it in the winter because we weren’t sure if everyone could make it for spring break because of sports, and you really don’t know if you are going to see everyone like this again after graduation. Of course I hope we do, but you never know.”
Looking back to when Say Yes first came to Syracuse, Gina remembers her initial disbelief: “When Say Yes first came to town they said that if we maintained an 85 or above average and had gone to school in the district for three or more years, then we could get free tuition. I was like “free tuition? Really?” I didn’t quite believe them at the time. But when they stuck around and showed us that they were serious I was really amazed. It was great for me and my parents. Everything about college adds up and is very expensive. Having free tuition is just amazing for us and motivates me even more --how couldn’t I go with them there?
“I think Say Yes should start expanding more. To give more opportunities to more kids. A lot of them can’t because they can’t afford it. Who wouldn’t want to go if you had free four years of school, especially when tuition keeps going up every year?”
Say Yes is just one of the many good things about Syracuse, according to Gina. She thinks a lot of people look to Destiny as the signal that Syracuse has increasing opportunities, but wants people to look further than that: “Destiny is really helping out the city a lot I think, but… why do you [only] want to base your destiny upon a mall? There are a lot of other good things too. Obviously Syracuse Basketball, Downtown Syracuse is always going no matter what, the MOST and Everson museums, the festivals throughout the year, the great restaurants -- It has a lot of stuff for an average sized city. I want people who have a bad perception of Syracuse to go and experience it for themselves. That’s the only way they are going to see the good in Syracuse.”
Gina has a lot of hope and positive things to say about her home. When she finally gets to go travel the world, she will always have Syracuse in the back of her mind. Hopefully in her travels she will meet Salma Hayek, the actress Gina would like to portray her in the inevitable movie to be made about her life. “I love her. She is beautiful. I have always liked her, I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t want to say, like, Sandra Bullock, because she has been in every movie and Salma just hasn’t. She’s just the best.”
Spotlight by: Jason Ashley
Intern, Say Yes to Education | Syracuse
Would you like to support more Say Yes Scholars like those featured in the Believer's Blog? Say Yes to Education Syracuse has partnered with Centscere, a unique start-up founded here in Syracuse, to securely link your philanthropy to your social media activity. Visit www.centscere.com and select Say Yes Syracuse Scholarship from the list of charities. All gifts matter and every cent is matched by SRC, Inc.