By Dr. Cynthia Colón.

I tore open the big envelope and read it to mom over the phone, “Dear Ms. Cyndie Colón, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the class of …” I didn’t get past the first sentence when I dropped the red phone and began screaming while mom cried on the other end.

Just six months prior, after my early shift at the local restaurant, I was home watching the USC vs. UCLA game. I yelled, “Hi, mom,” and despite her lack of interest in football, she joined me at half time. “What’s up Ladybug? You’ve been quiet all week,” a warm quesadilla in hand was a great way to get me to talk. “Everyone is talking about college. Applications are due after Christmas,” I took my first bite and the cheese oozed onto my hand. “Yeah, and? You are applying too,” I paused before responding. “Um, yes, but I don’t think I’ll apply to USC,” I stared at the television. It had been two years since my father moved out and my mother was left to raise three girls on a single income. “Ladybug, I never had a chance to follow my dreams, but…” before she finished I asked, “But how will we pay for it?” She got teary, “We will figure it out, Ladybug. We always do.”

I was raised among 20 cousins, 14 tíos and tías, one abuela, mom, dad, and sisters, Jessica and Stephanie. From this small village I learned how to make tamales, apply make-up, play card games, and enjoy soccer. But, in the fall of my senior year in high school, as I dreamed of being the first in my family to attend college, I had run out of advisors.

My mother was on a mission. She knew nothing about applying or paying for college, but within 48 hours, she found Mr. Vargas. It was Mr. Raul Vargas, Director of Mexican American Alumni Association at USC, whose simple words of encouragement fueled my confidence and in that moment, I dreamed the impossible. That week mom became my superhero.

Tips, Tales, & Truths for Teens emerged out of a simple goal: to guide those in need of a mentor and cheerleader through the college admission process. Using real stories and candid advice, this book empowers high school students with the knowledge of what to do, how to do it, and when to get it done. Today, I am completing the cycle and fulfilling my duty to help other promising students, of all backgrounds, build their dreams.

Through my journey of writing this book I have gleaned the one truth I could not comprehend at the age of 17: my dream was not just mine, but my family’s dream too. To this day my mom does not have a degree, but she has always been my superhero.

Dr. Cynthia Colón holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Doctorate of Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. As the Principal of St. Bernard High School, her leadership, vision, and strategic planning led to a dramatic turnaround at the institution and over the years, Dr. Colón led fund raising efforts, bringing in nearly $2 million in renovations. In addition, she also has experience with the college admissions process as a former assistant director at Vassar College in New York, where she was responsible for recruitment in seven states throughout the country. She founded Co-Ed College Consultants, Inc. to assist students in writing their college essays through a four-day workshop. For information, visit: http://drcynthiacolon.com/

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