As a sixth grader at the Irving Middle School in Boston, Georgina Alvarado was struggling in school. Her grades were “horrible” and she wasn’t engaged in her coursework, but she decided she’d join a program called Citizen Schools that she’d heard about through her friends because she wanted to spend more time with them in the afternoons. In Citizen Schools, her grades went up and she began to get excited about school through projects such as a business apprenticeship where she and fellow students started a business selling cell phone covers in Boston.
Then, when Georgina was in eighth grade, she met a woman who would change the course of her life. Susan Prosnitz was working at Suffolk Law School as the Executive Director of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at the time. She connected the school with the Citizen Schools 8th Grade Academy program where law students would pair up with eighth graders to coach the middle schoolers on writing skills and help them navigate the high school application process. She decided to join in and coach an eighth grader alongside the law students. She was paired up with Georgina.
Georgina describes herself as an eighth grader who “didn’t like adults telling me what to do.” She struggled with some of the rules in 8th Grade Academy, but looks back at that year as a turning point. “It changed me,” says Georgina. “I started trying my hardest and doing really well in school.”
In addition to building strong relationships with Citizen Schools 8th Grade Academy staff, Georgina grew very close to Susan throughout the year, working with her to practice academics and set long-term goals with a plan on how to get there. According to Georgina, “I think I’m made for Susan.”
“It’s as though the Citizen Schools staff knew to match us,” said Susan. “She’s feisty just like me.”
As an acting and theater lover, Georgina’s dream trip was to go to Los Angeles. Susan promised Georgina that they’d make the trip together if she did well in school. After Georgina made honor roll for the first time, the two went to Los Angeles together to see the sights (which included a trip to UCLA!). Georgina’s entire family came to the airport to send them off.
After eighth grade, Georgina asked Susan to remain her friend and mentor as she entered Boston Arts Academy. “She wanted to help me be the first person in my family to go to college,” says Georgina. “And if anyone could help me get there, it was Susan.”
During those high schools year, Susan had high expectations for Georgina and Georgina was up for the challenge. “It became clear to me that she really wanted to be pushed,” said Susan. “It was so powerful to watch her grow and see her eagerness to learn.”
They stayed in close touch and worked together on academics, setting priorities, SAT prep, college application essays, and all of the things it takes to get into college. They headed to New York City to visit New York University and Fordham University. Georgina traveled to Washington, DC when Susan made the move south and the two visited Georgetown University, American University, and George Mason University.
When it came time to apply to college, Georgina decided to apply to American University early acceptance. “I decided on our visit that I wanted to attend American University,” say Georgina. “I sat in on an international relations intro class and was very intrigued.”
Georgina graduated from high school with honors and will be attending American University (down the street from Susan) to study international relations with a full scholarship in the fall! “She is a remarkable person to have achieved what she has,” said Susan.
“I’m grateful for Susan’s commitment and passion and think of her as my second mother,” said Georgina. “She had hope for me.”
“Citizen Schools was so encouraging and supportive all these years,” according to Susan. “This is the most meaningful thing I’ve done in my whole life.”
Georgina and Susan, we couldn’t be more proud of the two of you.