STUDENT STORIES

Beginning in 4th grade and continuing through college, Steps to Success students commit to collaborating with us to ensure that their path to academic and personal growth is successful. Steps to Success is proud of our students and their school experiences. Click on photos below to read the stories of a few of our students and get to know some of these special young people!

Alyvia Norris is currently a Junior at UMass Boston. She is majoring in Anthropology and Social Psychology with an emphasis on the Individual in Society. Passionate about service, she participates in service trips every year and enjoys stepping into trip leader roles and operations to gain leadership experience. Through school, work, and service, she pursues every avenue that interests her, including topics on economic and health disparities, urban renewal, social justice, nonprofit work, and youth empowerment.

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Alyvia is grateful for her mentors and advisors that helped her navigate growing up in Brookline as a low income, student of color. Steps to Success has supported Alyvia in her countless endeavors, helping her through times when she needed an extra push. “They taught me so much, and just really helped shape my view of service and what it means to serve people like me.”

The seeds were planted very young that she would be encouraged not only to go to college, but that she would be encouraged to graduate from college. On top of being a full time college student, Alyvia is the Program Director for the AHU Program at Lincoln School and has been a part of the AHU Program leadership since she graduated from high school. After she graduates from college she plans to go on a long term service trip, and return to work for Steps to Success in a more full-time position to make sure low income students of color have the resources and support they need and deserve.

Alyvia is intentional about seizing every opportunity she possibly can - whether it’s a service trip, study abroad opportunity, or chance to serve and empower her community. As someone who loves to be involved in so many things, she says it is still important to choose yourself. The advice she has for other Steps students is to pursue “experiences that you are intentional about, that make you feel full, so that you can keep giving to the things you care about.”

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Sabrina Zhou moved when she was seven years old from China to the United States with her parents, who hoped to find a better life. After several moves around Boston, they settled in Brookline, and Sabrina became a part of Steps to Success from the 5th grade on. Now a rising senior at Brookline High School, she is the most recent recipient of the Brookline Youth Award and is fiercely dedicated to achieving her future goals.

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Sabrina is involved with the Steps to Success Leadership Team, is a member of ASPIRE (Asian Sisters Participating in Reaching Excellence Youth Leadership), is the President of the Asian Pacific-American Club, and is a writing editor for Brookline High School’s newspaper, “The Sagamore.” Sabrina plans to make her parents proud, and attend college as a first generation college student. She sees herself as an inspiration for her two younger brothers, who were born in Brookline, to grow up and be successful in spite of their low income background.

Sabrina’s family has been her greatest support- providing her with strength and the determination to be successful in life. In addition, Steps to Success has given her invaluable academic support, the ability to attend summer camps, and internship opportunities, all of which she has tackled head on. Sabrina says, “Steps has been the only organization, the only resource I’ve had… I always had someone to go to when I needed help or if I needed a question answered.”

She follows up with words of advice to Steps to Success students, saying, “Especially when you get older, [using your resources] opens the availability of opportunities. Advocate for yourself. Push for things you want… Don’t let your pride get the best of you.”

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David Lamour a Steps to Success alumnus, has a deep passion for Youth Development and has been working with Steps’ AHU and TA after school programs for the past three years as well as substitute teaching in Brookline Schools. His goal in life is to help kids understand their potential, to focus on the right things and encourage them to be who they want to be.

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When David reflects on his own upbringing, he is grateful for the additional resources that he had access to in Brookline. He says Steps to Success is an organization that fills a deep need by providing resources to families and students who need them, including workshops, events, field trips, afterschool, and summer opportunities David says are invaluable. He would tell anyone who is a part of the Steps community to take as much advantage of the program as possible, and show up to all the events and workshops. “Stay involved, stay in touch with the program. You’ll get to where you’re heading.”

He didn’t think about college growing up, but he started to realize just how important education is to him. It provides more opportunities and options to choose a path. With support, a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance, David earned his degree in Sociology from UMass Boston in 2016.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to yourself. But, they are there to help.” David hopes to find a role with STS or a similar organization where he can build relationships with young people and motivate them to believe in themselves.

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Samantha Hew is currently a Junior at Emmanuel College. She is majoring in Psychology and aspires to become a clinical or health psychologist. Samantha plans to graduate in two years and continue her education by attending graduate school. Her mom always pushes her to be persistent and to be her own person.

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She also credits Steps to Success for having a huge influence on her life, saying, “I feel like I would not be here, I would not be in college, probably wouldn’t have even finished high school, if it wasn’t for them.” Samantha is grateful for the support and confidence, and says Steps also taught her patience, and how to deal with people who aren’t as supportive of her goals.

Samantha grew up in a large household and around a lot of trauma. Over the years, she has grown passionate about working with children. She says one of the biggest things STS gave her was the ability to look at all of her options, find her own dreams, and follow her own path. Her ultimate goal in life is to find a job somewhere she can help children who have experienced trauma, to help them find meaning within themselves.

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Timothy Mei graduated from Brookline High School this June, and will be attending Boston University as a Freshman majoring in Electrical Engineering. He has been involved with Steps at every turn, and been an active participant in every program he could.

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College only became a tangible reality later in high school, after which he worked incredibly hard and began to see rewards after investing time in SAT prep and improving his GPA. He speaks from experience, “If you feel like you’re failing, don’t give up. People fail because they don’t think they can do better. Don’t believe that you can’t do it. Do something instead of nothing.”

Timothy is interested in learning more about what electrical engineering has to offer, and exploring electronics while he enjoys being creative through graphic design on the side. He wants to have a stable income, but he dreams of one day creating his own video game as a passion project.

Because money was a constant factor in his life growing up, he doesn’t want this to be a worry in his future. Timothy thanks STS wholeheartedly for making things easier and less stressful than they could have been for him.

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Sabrina Pierre is currently a Senior at Brookline High School, and joined Steps to Success when she became a student at the Pierce School in Brookline in the 6th grade. She is a well rounded student, and is excited to be involved with the Steps to Success Leadership Team. Sabrina has participated in theater arts, student directing, chorus, and auditioned this past year for the school choir, Camerata.

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She credits Steps to Success for being a strong support network throughout high school, especially through the 9th Grade Homework Center and Work Connections Program. She completed an internship with the Brookline Health Commission where she got administrative experience and helped with health inspections in the Brookline area. Another element Sabrina loved was going to workshops on, “writing applications, interviews, how to act in an interview, [and] how to manage your money.”

Sabrina plans to apply for college in the upcoming year. When she is out in the community, Sabrina likes to think about what jobs might interest her, and right now she leans towards working in some kind of medical field. She can see herself considering dentistry, optometry, or pharmacy. Ultimately, she hopes to find a career she enjoys and looks forward to.

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Yuri Zaitsev and his family immigrated to Brookline when he was young. Although his family did not have many resources, Yuri was able to aspire and achieve many goals he set forth because of the support system he had around him. After graduating from Brookline High School, Yuri attended Northeastern University. Steps to Success helped Yuri become confident in his own abilities and advocate for him to receive scholarships that he needed to be able to attend Northeastern.

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So when it came time to apply, Yuri had no doubt in his mind that he would be accepted because of all the resources which STS had provided. He was able to graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. Working with STS, Yuri also got a lot of experience in helping others and today he uses that experience to create medical implants to replace bone for people who need orthopedic surgery. “In the future, I would love to be conducting my own research in the medical industry, and making life a little easier for everyone.”

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Yama Estime is currently a senior at Brookline High School. She currently holds the position of Co-Captain for the Steps to Success Leadership Team. She became a part of Steps to Success when she was in the fourth grade and continuously took any opportunity to volunteer whenever STS was hosting an event. She’s participated in STS community service projects, activities, fundraisers, etc.

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Yama’s mother and sisters have been influential in shaping the person she is today, “I love my family as much as they love me.” Her goal is to make them proud by showcasing her leadership skills. She wants to be a role model to others and wants to reflect her family well.
Yama believes that Steps to Success has helped her to excel in high school by allowing for a transparent relationship between the students and the staff. She believes that the voice of students need to be heard, “I think it's very important that each student in Steps have a right to say something, because we are the students that make up the future, so just saying one small thing, it can be a big thing later on in life.”
Her advice for all the students in Steps to Success is that they should work hard to achieve what they want in life because one never knows what opportunity will change their life.

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Gavin Hui is currently a junior attending Boston University. He is majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Organization Behavior and is minoring in Sociology. He plans to pursue a career in human resources and in the nonprofit sector. Gavin chose to study business because he believes he can make a great impact on society by changing the corruption, lack of diversity, and social norms within the business industry. He taps into his passion for sociology by wanting to reform the business world’s environment by facilitating a culture of acceptance; with the ultimate goal of making the world a better place. “If I did any other major, I don’t think any of my aspirations could occur.”

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Gavin believes that without Steps to Success, he wouldn’t be where he is today; that he would not be attending BU on a full ride and that he would not have a life filled with mentors that support and believe in him, “I contribute many of my success to being able to be a part of Steps.”
STS made it possible for Gavin to experience new things like his sixth grade camping trip, volunteer activities, and jobs. Every year, he was able to get free books and school supplies instead of reusing supplies. All of these resources contributed to, what Gavin says are his best characteristics -determination and morality-helping him be accepted at Boston University.
In two years, Gavin hopes to graduate from Boston University and then obtain an internship or job.

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Karina Da Rosa is currently a junior at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
She is enrolled in NEU's Bouvé College of Health Sciences' Nursing program. Being able to inspire, motivate and assist a person to reach their full potential is something she is determined to do. “From a very young age I recognized that the ability to make change in another person's life was not only rewarding but also necessary.”

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Karina’s tremendous successes have not only come from her own enthusiasm and drive, but also from the support system she has behind her - including her family, her friends and the organizations she is a part of. Her family has been the foundation of who she is, and that foundation continues to solidify as she learns more about herself and about the world around her.
Growing up in Brookline, Karina had access to one of the most amazing school systems Massachusetts has to offer. As a result, Karina has been able to participate in some of the top programs provided; the network of resources Karina has in this city has only become more extensive over the years. Karina is certain that Steps to Success has been one of the most influential organizations in her life. She became a part of the organization in the fourth grade. From then on,she has been able to sit on the Board of Directors, speak at national conferences, hold internships, and meet leaders she would have not otherwise. For that, Karina is eternally grateful to STS.
“I am extremely proud of where I started, where I am now, and where I am going to go. In addition, I am excited for that same support system [STS] to watch me get there!”

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