"Where You Can Be Yourself"
It’s Rolando’s first year at the University of Washington in Seattle, but he’s no freshman. While growing up at Mercy Housing’s Sterling Meadows family community, Rolando chose to take challenging courses that shaved off a few semesters. And with a portion of his tuition covered by scholarships, he’s well-positioned to pursue his dreams of civic leadership and spreading educational equity.
“There’s a lot I’m interested in. I know I want to help and give back and maybe start something up like the help we [fellow students] had at Sterling Meadows. That would be a real long-term goal for me, where I could establish a place to help low-income families and people of color that need help with education. I’ve always looked at being a teacher too… and maybe even the governor of Washington State!”
This first year at college isn’t just a big step for him, but his family as well — he’s the first person in his family to attend a four-year university.
“My dad and mom always pushed me to do well, and they’ve always been there and done so much for me. This is my way of showing them how thankful I am for all that they’ve done.
There’s something about being the first one to go to college.”
Like many Mercy Housing Northwest school-aged residents, Rolando participated in Running Start and Homework Club, Mercy Housing’s after-school programming, which is part of the community’s robust Resident Services. At Sterling Meadows in Bellingham, WA, youth partner with student tutors from Western Washington University to tackle homework and much more.
My dad and mom always pushed me to do well, and they’ve always been there and done so much for me. This is my way of showing them how thankful I am.
— Rolando, Mercy Housing Northwest Resident
“Someone from the library would come to Sterling Meadows and offer us books, chat with us, and recommend things to read for us — I really liked that. The students at Sterling Meadows have been fortunate to have good mentors. A lot of them have contributed and helped us. It’s really contributed to students going on to higher education. Candice leads the homework club; she was not only helpful with academic stuff but also let us know that it’s ok to ask for help. That’s been directly useful at college for me because this has been a big social transition. Not everyone looks like me on campus, and sometimes I question if I belong, but I remember Candice’s and my parents’ advice. She taught me that it’s ok to ask for help when I need it and my parents too; they keep me driven. To me, home is where you can be yourself.”