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Scholar Spotlight: How NSPA Members Are Changing Lives

Wednesday, April 17, 2019  
Raven Avery, Scholarship Recipient and Graduate
Achievers Scholarship Program and College Success Foundation

Graduating from high school in 2002, I received the Washington State Achievers Scholarship as a member of the second cohort. The award covered a large part of my tuition at the University of Washington. I would have attended the UW anyway — likely with loans that I would still be paying back today. Being awarded a scholarship was not a factor in whether I attended college.

While I was an undergraduate, I became involved with the Achievers Scholarship and the College Success Foundation (CSF). The experience changed my values, my identity, and the course of my life. I
worked as a Peer Advisor forAchieversand I interned at CSF headquarters. Working with CSF staff and other scholarship recipients, I began to understand my own context: I met students from diverse backgrounds, began to realize my personal privileges and disadvantages, and I saw the impact of both socioeconomic hardship and financial generosity.

I got to know impressive students with similar backgrounds (often, people who had persevered through more difficulty than myself), and realized that if I wouldn’t judge them for their modest resources, I couldn’t judge my own family or myself. This lifted a huge burden of shame I had carried while growing up on welfare, hand-me-down clothes, and free lunches.


As graduation approached, I felt drawn to working in education. I gave up plans (and a job offer) to work in graphic design, and instead began working for the University of Washington. I earned my Master’s in Education, focusing on how we can better support diverse students in college. A couple years ago I advocated for a new position in my department- I became the first Assistant Director for Diversity & Outreach in the UW computer science program. This is a small piece of the world, but I know I’ve helped make it more accessible and equitable, as well as helped students of many backgrounds have positive experiences.

I would have gone to college without my scholarship, and I’d probably have a good career. But my scholarship helped me see value in myself and in other people that I may have missed otherwise. It made me a better person. It motivated me to give back to people around me. That’s so much more valuable than the dollar amount I received for tuition.

Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support!

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