Paying It Forward
For Heidy, who started attending HOLA in 7th grade, HOLA was a safe haven for expression and growth, a space to study and make friends after school. Expressing that many kids didn’t want to go home after school, HOLA was a place to go that kept them away from drugs and gangs. HOLA provided a positive and creative space for Heidy to grow as a scholar and a person. One day when stopping by HOLA to print something, Heidy ran into someone from the Tisch School of Arts and learned about a Paris study abroad program, which she was later accepted to and attended! Heidy wonders what would have happened if she didn’t come in that day and is thankful for all of the opportunities HOLA has provided.
Heidy is currently a senior at Barnard, double majoring in American Studies and Psychology. While she now loves it there, she struggled to adjust at first. On top of dealing with culture shock, she was struggling academically. But she didn’t give up, she knew she had a community to turn to at HOLA. Former Alumni Director Andrea Cova encouraged her and motivated Heidy to face her obstacles and continue with her education. “There is always someone at HOLA who I can approach with either good or bad news—knowing that I will be heard and validated.” As Heidy finishes her degree, she is looking forward to taking a year off before heading to graduate school for her PhD in History.