Abraham has always been a hard worker. In high school, he always pushed himself to add one more class, extracurricular, or club. Anything to give him an edge on his college applications. Abraham’s parents dreamed of providing him with a college education, but they knew the only way to afford it was through scholarships. So Abraham learned to excel in everything he did.
But, when college admissions came and scholarship notifications started to get posted, Abraham ended up with nothing. Due to complex legal issues beyond his control, Abraham didn’t qualify for the scholarships he needed to afford college. But that didn’t stop him.
Determined to make his dream come true, and make his parents proud, Abraham resolved to work a grueling 80+ hour work week, juggling two jobs, internships, family, and a full-time course schedule at Mesa Community College. Abraham recalled how difficult this time in his life was: “While I was getting good grades, the unpredictable hours of two part-time jobs and physically demanding landscaping work always meant I was just barely getting by.” Something would need to change soon for him to finish his degree.
It was in his second year at Mesa Community College that Abraham learned of A New Leaf’s Assets to Opportunity (ATO) Program, which offers financial support and counseling for individuals making an investment in their future. The ATO Program allocates funds based exclusively on need, meaning Abraham would not be discriminated against for any reason. After a quick application, he qualified.
Once enrolled in the ATO Program, Abraham had access to a host of valuable resources. He would get two dollars matched to every one dollar he saved for his education, would have access to financial counseling, and could utilize affordable banking services. Abraham used all of the services he could: “The ATO Program is a huge opportunity, better than a scholarship because you have to invest yourself in the program and save your own money. You only get out of it what you put into it”
Within only a few months, Abraham was able to quit his second job and focus on preparing for graduation and transferring to ASU. This made a huge difference, “The Assets to Opportunity program allows me to actually do my best in school, instead of barely getting by. It gives me a fair playing field compared to those that are able to quickly succeed because they have no other responsibilities.”
But Abraham knows there are more people out there in need like he was, “I know others in worse situations who could use this support more than me. There just aren’t enough programs like this.” In May of 2018, Abraham will graduate from ASU with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design. He will be the first of his entire family to graduate college.