Three years ago, Rafael and his mother, moved from Puerto Rico to Dorchester, where they began living with his aunt. Shortly after the move, his mother found work at Walgreens and Rafael enrolled in the 9th grade at Burke High School. Surrounded by strangers, he felt like his focus was on just getting through the day.
“He came from a really tough situation. His life’s not been easy,” said Chris Bishop, Burke faculty member.
Six months ago, Rafael was introduced to CFES and in July, he attended a three-day CFES program at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. This was the first time he had stepped foot on a college campus. According to Rafael, the experience was “life changing.” He stayed in a dorm, ate in the dinning hall, participated in college application workshops, and spoke with professors. “I fit in there, and I could see myself going to college,” said Rafael. “I learned that I could study computer science and become a video game designer.”
This fall, Rafael joined the CFES Student Leadership Team. Although he describes himself as shy, he signed up to become a CFES Peer Mentor to a 9th grader. Rafael is currently working on his application to St. Michael’s and several Boston area colleges. He recognizes the importance of what he’s learning with CFES and says that “if I can go to college and get a good job, so can any Burke student.”