"Please join me as I proudly run in support of Steppingstone Scholars." Read Diana's story below
The Story of Me
Sprinting back and forth a small area of the Franklin Park, my seven year old self would pretend to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Across the invisible line, my mom was there to cheer and hug me every time. From our smiles no one could begin to imagine what had happened in the past year, not even ourselves. While it was not hard to quickly find ways for my family to distract ourselves in this new city, it took time for the new memories to overcome the lasting feelings of anguish and fear of fleeing from our home Colombia.
Boston was luck, it had been the place where our extended family resided. They welcomed us to this new and intimidating change of life with empathy, love, and care, everything you could ask for when moving to an unknown place. However, no hug would change the reality that due to a threatening call we were obligated to leave our lives in exchange for safety. Similar to many other Colombian families who struggled with political violence, we had no other choice but pack our lives in a few bags, and pretend that this was a temporary solution. We flew with the lasting hope that maybe one one day things would fall back into what we knew as normality.
The Story of Us
What would have happened if we had stayed? I ask myself this question from time to time trying to make sense of the whole situation. Who knows how my life would have turned out...What I do know is that I owe who I am today and what I have achieved to my unconditional support system. And that support system would be nearly non existent without The Steppingstone Foundation.
The name really says it all. Steppingstone was the instrumental step in my life as a young fourth grade student that led me to my achievements. It was unimaginable at the time that being accepted to this program meant my parents and I would become part of a lifelong family who would do everything to assure my success by providing us with educational, social, emotional, and financial support from middle school to beyond college.
As an under-served inner city student and a struggling immigrant family regaining their identity, Steppingstone took us under their wing. With effective preparation and support of the Steppingstone Academy, I entered the path that led me to the completion of The Park School, The Brimmer and May School, and The College of the Holy Cross. Three AMAZING networks that have provided me life long friends and mentors, unforgettable trips, achievable dreams, and my own untouchable tool kit of knowledge, skills, and resources.
The magic of Steppingstone is that there are no token stories, in fact the majority of Scholars are success stories, individuals giving back to society in ways they never imagined. From lawyers, doctors, and financial advisors, to artists, nonprofit leaders, and teachers, Steppingstone lives and fulfills its mission of preparing underserved students for educational opportunities that lead to college success. Serving around 1,600 students every year, of the Scholars who attend the full Steppingstone's Academy preparation component, 93% attend four year colleges. This is nearly perfection.
The Story of Now
Yet we still have a problem. While the city is working hard to increase its four year college enrollment rates, the reality is that only 31% of students graduating in the public school system (excluding the three exam schools) enroll at four-year colleges. This means thousands of students are getting left behind. While Steppingstone is doing everything to fill the gap, and doing it well, it can only do so much on limited funds.
For this reason I am running in support of the Steppingstone Foundation in the 2018 Boston Marathon for the first time. Not only will these miles represent the future lives of underserved children who will achieve their aspirations, but it will be one of my many efforts in commemorating and showcasing the work and the man who gave me and thousands of other Scholars our lives and success, Mr. Mike Danziger. His work, vision, and ability to believe in children no matter the circumstances will live on forever.
Now I ask you to form part of our history, and join me along with the Steppingstone family to continue improving educational opportunities for young lives. Please, donate at your ability and know that we are grateful for EVERY single effort. The goal is to reach $6,000 to be able to run, a goal I find achievable with all of your support.
If you made it this far, I am forever grateful for your time and attention. My true hope is that this is not only a story of me, but a story of all us and what we can do for the children of Boston and beyond.
Class of '05