Amid a global pandemic and an unprecedented wave of protests in Minneapolis, the class of 2020 has had a very unusual senior year. And yet despite these unique hurdles, this year’s FANS seniors have pushed through to high school graduation. We couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments.

FANS is a college and career mentorship program for high schoolers, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Upon completing the program and graduating from high school, students are eligible for a scholarship to help pay for their continuing education. FANS scholarships are funded entirely thanks to donations from our network of supporters, and 100% of contributions go directly to students to help cover books, tuition, and other expenses.

Keep reading below to meet some of our 2020 FANS graduates below and hear what they have to say about their experiences in the program.

Meet: Zubeda, Roosevelt High School Grad

Why is it important for you to go to college?
It is important for me to go to college because I want to help my family and not depend on anyone else—so I want to give it back to my community, and I feel like going to college and getting an education is the only way I can do that. I also want to go to college because all my life I’ve been going to school and I want to continue to get the education that I need that my friends didn’t get in Ethiopia.

Tell us about your experience with FANS.
FANS has help me prepare for college in many ways. I remember when I first started, I wasn’t really sure about college or what college was, but this program has help me figure out why I need to go to college. I’ve seen people who have been in [FANS] go on to college and become successful, and I want to be like them. It has helped me by going on tours, looking at how I can pay for college, talking with college admission counselors, and just basically preparing me for life after high school.

Tell us about your FANS/C2C program mentor. What do you think are the best qualities in a mentor?
To be honest, Jose is one of the best mentors I had throughout my high school career. Although I don’t know him very much, and he started in the middle of the school year, I got to know him on a personal level. He told me the story of how he got here, and I told him [mine]. He helps edit my essays … and he always helps me out with my homework. He is very helpful and understanding! I’m thankful that I have him as a mentor—also, just knowing that he went to the U of M and I’m going to the U of M too.


Meet: Osvin, Wellstone International High School Grad

What are you most interested in studying? Why?
I am interested to study law enforcement because it is a great career for me. I want to help my community and I want them to feel safe and protected. Since I was a child, I want to be a police officer.

Why is it important for you to go to college?
It is important for me to go to college because I am the first one of my whole family who has the opportunity to go to college. No one in my whole family has had the opportunity to study, so I want to get the advantage and the opportunity that life has given to get to college. When I came to the United States it was difficult for me to go to college because I didn’t know how to write and read in my home language. Now I can say I am bilingual because I know both languages. I’m so grateful that I am studying. Lastly, it is important for me to go to college to be an example for many young men that we can do whatever we propose to do if we work hard and help each other.

Tell us about your experience with FANS.
My experience in this program had been so great. The mentors have helped me so much on being more confident in myself. I was so shy when I got into the program, but now they taught me to not be shy. I have learned so much from this program. When I needed help with some homework these people were always there to help me to understand the subject. As you know, college is even harder than high school and this program really helped me with understanding. I didn’t know so much from colleges as well—now I can say I have more understanding of what college looks like.


Meet: Faiza, Wellstone International High School Grad

What are you most interested in studying? Why?
I am interested in many majors that involve helping others. I’m currently interested in becoming a nurse or in the medical field because there is always a societal need. I am also considering the field of social work, because I want a career that involves helping others. I want to work in a hospital to serve others, and see people live their best lives. This motivated me to choose majors and I am passionate about helping others and making a difference. I believe my love can save people’s lives and bring joy.

Why is it important for you to go to college?
Going to college is important to me because I am the first person in my family who is going to attend college. I am the oldest of four children. My mother did not have the opportunity to go to school like me. My father finished high school. He took some college courses, but he did not earn a college degree. Ever since I was little, my parents used to talk to me about how important education is to the whole family and the community. I will be a role model for my younger siblings. I also need to get my degree to become a nurse.

Tell us about your experience with FANS.
This group offers an opportunity for the students. I joined this program in my junior year in 2018. It was my favorite program because I was getting tutoring after school, applying for scholarships, [getting] free snacks, and having fun. This program helped prepare for college, and college tours. For me, every Monday was the best day of the week.


Meet: Aisha, Wellstone International High School Grad

Why is it important for you to go to college?
Because I want to educate myself so I can help my community.

Tell us about your FANS/C2C program mentor. What do you think are the best qualities in a mentor?
I would say [being] understanding and open-minded and realistic. I really like it when people tell you the truth and tell us about obstacles we may face and giving us advice. I see that in my mentor—he’s an amazing leader.

Hear from more grads:

Anayeli: The reason college is important for me is because I want to increase my knowledge in the career path I plan to pursue. By attending college, I hope to increase my opportunities. I hope to gain new skills and become more confident.

Badriya: I really enjoyed the support we got from FANS. Whenever we were confused about college or college life we had someone to turn to when asking for help. The main things I learned about, which I was struggling on, was [personal] finances—I really didn’t have a perspective on that. I learned about budgeting and saving money in the long run. Also, networking with other university students really opened my eyes to learn about the college experience.

Abdirizak: This program helped me to be more aware of how colleges work, and learn from people who have been in college. I learned a lot from college tours, which shaped me to be relaxed about anything I would face in the next step in my life.

Thank you to all of this year’s seniors who shared their thoughts and experiences with us. We wish them the best of luck as they move onto a new phase of their lives.

Don’t forget that the FANS program, and the scholarships we offer, depend on the contributions of our supporters in the community. These contributions make a direct impact in the lives of young people and their post-secondary dreams.

If you’re able, consider making a contribution to the FANS scholarship fund today. Click here to donate to FANS. Make sure to select FANS in the “Designation” section to ensure your gift is added to the scholarship fund.