One night, Carla Cabrera was home and feeling a little stressed out about applying to college – as many high school seniors do at some point in the process.
“So I stayed up until like midnight and applied to 20 schools,” she said. “I wanted to see how many schools I would get into.” The answer was 14. “I just started getting a lot of acceptances out of nowhere.”
The soon-to-be graduate of Central High School in Providence chose Rhode Island College, which she will attend at no cost. She plans to study nursing and one day work in the neonatal intensive care unit. “I’ve always had an obsession with being around kids,” she said. Before the pandemic, she had been working at South Side Boys and Girls Club helping children with homework and playing games with them.
While she never imagined a situation like we’re in today when she chose her career path, she said recent events both have given her pause and reinforced her decision. “Because there’s times like this when random epidemics happen and they have a whole bunch of nurses and doctors and that’s not even enough,” she said. “The more the better.”
The pandemic also threw a wrench into her senior year, as it has for so many others. She is taking two Advanced Placement classes – calculus and English literature and composition – and said distance learning has made calculus tough. She misses the interaction she had with students and teachers. “In law class we’d usually talk about our work after we were finished and our teacher used to tell us to share our opinions,” she said.
“It was upsetting knowing that I wasn’t going to be around my friends,” she said about learning she and her classmates wouldn’t return to the classroom. “But I couldn’t think about it selfishly. Other people almost gave up and [graduating] was their celebration that they did it.”
She said her College Crusade advisor, Alexa Morales, has been extremely helpful in her senior year. “She is always happy and bubbly and gives off good energy. There’s been times when there’s about 20 of us in her office who all need something and she sits and helps all of us,” she said. “I was lost and she helped me. She gave me advice on what I should do and shouldn’t do – even life advice, not even just college advice. If I have problems going on at home, she listens and advises me.”
She said the College Crusade has been there for her from the time she was a shy middle schooler to filling out her FAFSA as a senior.
“The Onward We Learn helped me with my SATs when I took the prep program. It also helped me wake up early on Saturdays for it,” she said with a laugh. “The Crusade helped me learn a lot about college. If I hadn’t been able to be in the Onward We Learn, I think I would be lost in a lot of things.”