“Without the Urban Scholars Initiative, there’s no way that I could graduate on time,” says Taydavia Martinez. “I would have to slow down. Take fewer classes. Work more hours.”
This tug-of-war between financial stability and earning a college degree isn’t a new concept to economically disadvantaged students, and especially not to Taydavia, who transferred to Lesley in her junior year. She came from Wheaton College, where she thrived socially, but felt burdened by monthly student loan payments and a biology major that no longer fit her passions.
“When I transferred, I thought I would have to make a trade off. I would be studying what I loved, but sacrificing all the friends that I had made.”
That trade off never came. Even as a commuter student, from day one, Taydavia was initiated into an on-campus “family” made up of mentors and peers who were invested in her success.
When she and other first-year Urban Scholars—all young women at the time—were able to get together, they clicked instantly. “We call our group ‘The Fab Five.’ We’re inseparable,” says Taydavia. “We eat dinner together. We go to the gym together. We’re attached at the hip.”
For Taydavia, being a part of this community has had a tangible impact. Since creating close ties to Urban Scholars, her grades have improved. “I was getting B’s and C’s. Now I’m earning all A’s and B’s.”
Today, she’s taking what she’s learned and paying it forward to new Urban Scholars. “I’m mentoring a group of three students. It’s rewarding to be able to help,” she says.