The Path to College: Nykia and Essence’s Story

Fall marks a time of great excitement for high school seniors as they start planning for college. This process can be difficult for first-generation college students, but with the support of their mentors, iMentor students tackle it through researching schools, writing personal statements, and applying for scholarships. Pairs like Nykia and Essence from iMentor Baltimore share their story of Nykia’s journey to college and how she landed a full ride to Stevenson University.

A Mentor as a Sounding Board

Nykia first met Essence during her junior year at Baltimore Design School. She admits that she was shy at first, and was hesitant about opening up to her mentor. A key element in building their relationship, Essence says, was to listen to whatever was on Nykia’s mind, whether it was related to school or her personal life. The pair discovered they had similar family backgrounds, which helped them to connect on things they had in common.

Nykia always knew she wanted to go to college. She was very proactive in meeting deadlines and even went on several campus tours. Even so, there were aspects of college life that Nykia could not learn through research, and she turned to her mentor for guidance.

“[Essence] gave me a lot of advice of how college might go and how certain things might not go the way I want,” Nykia says. “I’m glad she’s a person in my life that I could count on and trust.”

Essence recalls how they weighed different aspects of each college, including campus size and tuition costs, and considered the type of school where Nykia would thrive the most. This conversation was critical for Nykia in making her decision as Essence shared her perspective and those from friends who attended the colleges that Nykia visited.

“I told her, if you don’t like the environment and what the school is like, that’s important – you’re going to spend four years there,” Essence remarks. “Being a sounding board – if I could just do that [for her], I felt good about it.”

Seizing Every Opportunity in College

Based on her conversations with Essence, Nykia eventually decided on Stevenson University to take advantage of the community resources it offered. “They have support groups and success coaches – just a lot of things for freshmen to help you transition into your first year of college. I felt like I could go here,” she explains.

Nykia finally received her acceptance letter to Stevenson, but faced the challenge of finding a way to pay for it. Without feeling deterred, she once again turned to Essence to find a solution together. “We overcame that by applying to more scholarships and talking to state aid and talking to the schools. That’s how I got a full ride to Stevenson,” Nykia says. She was able to rely on her mentor because of the trust they built throughout their relationship.

The trust between Nykia and Essence flourishes as Nykia embarks on her freshman year of college. A business major, she interns at Oriole Park and intends to seize every opportunity that college gives her. In the future, she envisions herself owning a business or becoming a real estate broker.

Essence continues to offer advice on time management and finding class materials to make sure Nykia stays on the path to success. They both have high hopes for Nykia as she goes through her college journey.

“I got lucky. She’s a really great kid. She’s really driven, so that’ll help take her a long way,” Essence says. “I’m excited to see what her future holds.”

We need more mentors like Essence to guide students into college! Sign up to become a mentor today: