Mavelin Godinez is a Citizen Schools North Carolina alumna from Eastway Middle School who will be starting her freshman year at Queens University in Charlotte this fall. When Godinez learned in January that she was accepted to Queens, her first-choice college, she was thrilled. She attributes the accomplishment to her relationship with Eastway Campus Director and former Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow, Melissa Verea.
Godinez was enrolled in Citizen Schools during her 7th and 8th grade years at Eastway Middle School. She recalls being shy and quiet in her classes and in Citizen Schools. Middle school wasn’t an easy time for her and her family. Her mother had recently re-married and given birth to a baby girl while also battling with depression. With so much going on at home, Godinez was happy to have a place to go after school.
During her time with Citizen Schools, the staff nominated Godinez for a mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa. When the Citizen Schools staff handed her the application and told her about the nomination she was shocked. She said, “It was the best trip I ever took. I was the only one from Eastway to be accepted. I was the quietest one and I didn’t even know the staff noticed me. It showed me they actually cared.”
The staff did care, and they still do. Godinez still stays in touch with Melissa Verea and her 8th grade Team Leader, Angel Johnson. Verea and Johnson are still part of her life even though she graduated from Citizen Schools at Eastway four years ago. Verea even accompanied her to an information session at Queens University when she was accepted and takes her out to lunch for her birthday every year. “I get very attached to people. The staff was my favorite part about Citizen Schools. I’m happy I still get to see them!” Godinez said.
Mavelin Godinez is the first member of her family to go to college in America. Her parents didn’t pursue higher education and her older brothers and sisters moved home to Guatemala. Godinez plans to major in chemistry at Queens University and is enrolled in the pre-med track. Her family is extremely proud of her.
Godinez has a bright future before her, and she is eager to start the next chapter of her life. When asked why she wanted to go to Queens University she said, “Because Ms. Melissa went there and she always talked about it. It made me want to go too.”
Melissa Verea is a positive and caring role model to Godinez and to all of the other Citizen Schools students at Eastway Middle School. Encouragement, support and love go a long way for a middle school student. In Godinez’s case it took her all the way to college and one step closer to reaching her lifelong dream of becoming a pediatric surgeon. Her advice to current and future Citizen Schools students is simple: “Get to know the Citizen Schools staff and let them get to know you. It makes all the difference.”