Lauren Prates

She always knew her senior year would be challenging, but not in the ways she expected. Like millions of other high school students, Lauren has started this year remotely, but she’s determined to avoid the all-too-easy pitfalls for slacking off.

“It’s tricky to stay motivated because you’re in your home, your comfort zone,” Lauren says. “So during classes I get out of my room, go to the kitchen table and turn off my phone. I have very close relationships with teachers and I rely on them as my support system, so we always have Zoom calls.”

Pathways teachers are part of Lauren’s support system. They’ve helped her create a college list from which she can determine which institutions might best match her needs, relating to location, course of study, and financial aid packages. Lauren is part of her school’s student council, represents her school at the Newark Student Union, and earned her school’s student of the month honors.

As she has progressed in Pathways, Lauren recognizes that her role in the program has changed from the time she was first admitted.

“I’m not a little freshman anymore, Lauren says. “As new members have come in, I’ve seen the progression. I have to be the responsible one my Pathways teachers depend on to do things for the younger kids. As we grow older, we gain a lot of responsibility.”

Lauren, a bilingual Portuguese speaker, is interested in law, but wants to major in business administration. Her motivation came from an economics class she took last year. She learned how businesses work and how to maintain them. Lauren wants one day to be a risk management director.

Lauren says Pathways helped hone her sense of purpose.

“I needed to be involved in something,” Lauren says, of her initial interest in Pathways, during pre-COVID-19. “Going home straight after school was not it for me. I wanted to invest in something to benefit me. With Pathways, I get a sense of community. I get to expand my knowledge about college and we get advice that’s personalized.”