Danes Mathew ’11 is a senior at Boston Latin School. An aspiring doctor, she volunteers at local hospitals as a member of the BLS Care for Kids Club and is a member of Talented and Gifted Latinos, for which she wrote and directed a play last year. She also tutors younger students in Spanish, chemistry, and math and was a Teaching Assistant at Steppingstone’s College Success Academy.
Why did you want to have a leadership role at Steppingstone?
I remember being friends with all my TAs. I was really close to my aPlay teacher and bus monitor, Ms. Pontes. I see her now on Facebook, and she’s traveling and doing great things. She just left for Ghana and is doing volunteer work, and I think that’s awesome. I love seeing her go after what she wants to do. She’s the main person who inspired me to become a TA.
What is something you try to instill in the Steppingstone Scholars you work with?
I definitely try to teach them to get into the habit of studying and not leaving anything to the last minute. A lot of Scholars ask me about my high school experience, and how much work it is to be a high school student. I talk to them about managing their time well and using study periods to get ahead. It’s also important to find a balance between fun and work.
When Scholars are having a hard time during the summer, I try to teach them to have a growth mindset, so they know that the harder they try, the easier it will get. And I tell them it’s important to have a positive outlook. I tell them that we’re always here to help.
At Steppingstone, they teach you things that are so much more advanced than what you would learn in school. This summer, I’m teaching 10-year-olds things that I learned as a junior in high school! It’s amazing that Scholars can get such a good education at such a young age.
What do you think is most valuable about Steppingstone’s programs?
The most valuable thing about Steppingstone is definitely the support system you have here. Everyone is super friendly and always willing to help. They don’t want you to fail and they are so encouraging.
There are so many different people who make up my support system at Steppingstone. My Advisors (whom I email all the time!), teaching assistants and interns, other Scholars and friends, staff and teachers.
Some of the teachers here this summer taught me back when I was a young Scholar. I’ve been talking to them and reconnecting during my free time. I remember Ms. Arcangeli, Ms. Ventrone, and Ms. Bouchard from when I was a young Scholar. Every time I see them, they say hi, which makes me feel like they really care about me.
What Steppingstone services have you taken advantage of? How did they help you?
I’ve taken a few workshops at Steppingstone to help me prepare for college. One helped me narrow down what kinds of schools I want to apply to, and another was focused on financial aid. Steppingstone also connected me with a representative from Stanford, who gave me advice about applying to competitive schools around the country. The college resources I get at Steppingstone are great opportunities. I probably would have never talked to someone from Stanford, if Steppingstone hadn’t connected us.
What do you think are the biggest barriers to going to college, and why do you think Steppingstone is an important program in the Boston community? Will you be the first person in your family to attend college?
Cost is a huge barrier to college for students in Boston. Steppingstone is an incredible, free resource for students throughout the city. The program helps you with financial aid, teaches you how you can save money, connects you with discounted SAT classes, and takes you on college tours, which many families can’t afford on their own.
Steppingstone helps you in any way possible so you can find out what college you want to go to. They encourage you and support you if you ever begin to doubt yourself. They help you come up with the best approach to overcoming all these challenges.
If someone asked why it’s important to support Steppingstone what would you say?
I would tell them that there are students here from all around Boston getting an opportunity that a lot of people don’t have. Steppingstone is about your future. It’s about helping you get better and making sure you’re successful so you can help your family and yourself. So you can make a difference in the world that you might not be able to if you weren’t encouraged by Steppingstone. I think that’s incredibly important.