Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Santos


Growing up, my childhood wasn’t always the norm. I come from a family with a military father and I’ve had to grow up and mature much more quickly than others my age. I was born in San Diego, but my family moved to Los Angeles when I was four years old. Due to my father’s job at the naval base in San Diego, we did a lot of travelling back and forth between SD and LA. Being the eldest of 3 children, I have always been the role model to my two younger brothers. My parents expected me to set the standard for my brothers and in high school I had to try to excel in every class because I knew I wanted to attend a great university. As the first person in my family to go to college, I had no idea what to do when it came to applications and deadlines. My parents tried to help, but I sought help from my college counselor and from CollegeSpring.

I participated in CollegeSpring before the start of my senior year, in the summer of 2013. I attended Birmingham Community Charter High School and I was fortunate enough to join CollegeSpring’s program. My mentor was my first exposure to an actual college student and she greatly impacted my views about college. She reminded me about college deadlines, scholarships, and also pushed me to start working on my personal statements. She gave me tips on how to improve on the SAT, but she also gave me the confidence to believe in myself that I could attend the college of my dreams. I did get into my dream school and I’m currently in my second year at UCLA. I declared as a Biology major and I’m still figuring out what I want to do with that major. Going into the medical field is a possibility, since I love to work with children and may plan to be a pediatrician. However, I’m still keeping my options open as I explore other careers related to my major, such as a researcher in different labs.

The CollegeSpring program was a wonderful experience for me and I’m so thankful for all the wonderful mentors and staff that assisted during the summer session. They really helped guide me during the difficult college application process. CollegeSpring also gave me a chance to interact with real college students and hear their stories about their college experiences. They told me how college actually is with the stress of midterms, finals, and long essays. The mentors explained that college is difficult for everyone, but it is definitely a worthwhile experience. After going through the program, I felt less stressed about starting the college application process and at the same time I felt excited about going to college and learning to be independent. CollegeSpring made it possible for me to have a chance to better my life and I’m grateful that I was able to take part in such a great program.