We recently spoke with one of CollegeSpring’s very first mentors, Jonas Kwok, who is now serving students in New York City as a HeathCorps Coordinator. We asked Jonas to tell us about his experience with CollegeSpring and to share any wisdom he might have for current students.
You were one of CollegeSpring’s first mentors–and the program looked much different when you were involved than it does now. How did you get connected with CollegeSpring?
I met Garrett [Neiman, CollegeSpring CEO] when I signed up for his SAT tutoring class when I was a freshman in high school. This was when he had just started the program as a college student, and the curriculum was more so a set of guidelines than a set of lessons. After I finished the course and took the SAT, Garrett asked if I’d like to be a tutor for his classes, and I agreed enthusiastically. I and several peers were tutors for small groups of students for the classes we held for high schoolers in our hometown, and we also commuted to University of California Irvine and Chapman University to teach students in Upward Bound programs at those locations.
You graduated from college recently, and are continuing to work with high school students as a HealthCorps Coordinator. How did your CollegeSpring experience influence your choices after graduation?
I’ve been drawn to mentoring and tutoring for a long time, involving myself in those kinds of roles in high school and college, in addition to working with CollegeSpring. I loved my experiences tutoring and teaching the SAT, and they definitely steered me towards more teaching roles. I plan to go to medical school in the future, but I knew that I wanted to take time between college and that next step, and roles involving service and education was ideal to me. I learned about HealthCorps, and found that I could incorporate health into the mix as well, which has been perfect. I’ve had a lot to learn about teaching interacting with students since starting as a HealthCorps Coordinator, but I think that I was certainly better-prepared by my time with CollegeSpring.
As a former CollegeSpring mentor and current HealthCorps Coordinator, do you have any advice for CollegeSpring students or alumni?
As a HealthCorps Coordinator, most of my advice to students involves fostering a healthy lifestyle, and I try to emphasize that health is integral to academic success. From proper nutrition to having a positive mindset, I very much believe that academics are greatly influenced by how we treat and perceive ourselves.
For students taking the SAT, I would advise to bringing a ‘comfort’ snack with them to the test – I personally brought orange juice and some almonds – a snack can help you over that mid-test hump and make you feel a lot better, too!
For those applying to college now, I would encourage everyone to get as many peers and mentors as possible to read and edit your essays! Your GPA and SAT score are important and are essential for getting applicants’ foot through the door, but your essays are your chance to tell an admissions officer who you are and why you, as an individual, should be admitted.
For former CollegeSpring students just now starting college, congratulations! Your accomplishments are so celebrated by your mentors, and we are so happy that we have been able to contribute in some small way to your future success. Keep up the good work and look forward always.