Growing up in public housing with little family history of college attendance, Charline Mitchell had few prospects for getting an education beyond high school. But she is driven to seize opportunities, and she has beaten the odds by taking her education further than she ever expected.
“Without Children’s Aid,” Charline says, “I wouldn’t have applied to school in the first place.”
Her journey to academic and personal success started in high school, where Charline initially struggled with social anxiety and low self-esteem. A guidance counselor helped her cope with the pressures she felt and in their sessions saw a spark in Charline and took note of her talent and potential.
With her counselor’s recommendation, Charline became a participant in Children’s Aid’s Hope Leadership Academy, where she began to blossom.
At Hope, Charline focused squarely on her academics. She fondly remembers Hope’s tutoring sessions—“I was always the last one to leave,” she says—and she earned high grades as a result. Her academic achievement qualified her for a cultural exchange program in Germany through a Children’s Aid partner.
She also took advantage of internship and employment opportunities—working at A Time for Children and HBO through Children’s Aid apprenticeship programs—and became a community leader, heading a youth group in the neighborhood and volunteering at various nonprofits.
When Charline reached her senior year, Children’s Aid mentors presented the idea of applying to college. Excited by the idea but overwhelmed by the process and the huge costs, she wasn’t sure she could do it. In the end, after lots of guidance, support and partial scholarships from Children’s Aid, she enrolled at St. John’s University to pursue counseling.
As an undergraduate student, Charline continued to take advantage of opportunities, juggling a major in human services, an internship at P.S. 111 in Long Island City and volunteer positions at College Goal NY, iMentor and several other community organizations. She then defied the odds even further by continuing on to graduate school at St. John’s, which awarded her a master’s degree in school counseling in January.
Since then, Charline has been working at The Avon Foundation and the Young Adult Institute while she applies to school counselor positions, aiming to secure employment through the Department of Education by the end of the summer.
“Children’s Aid truly changed my life,” she says. Knowing how powerful good guidance can be, Charline is eager to help others make their college dreams come true.