The Inaugural Cohort: What They're Saying About the Program Now!

What does the Delaware College Scholars program mean to some of our very first graduates? Read on to learn more about the impact the program has on two of our inaugural participants, Brandon Dawson and Taylor Wayland!

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Brandon Dawson - Duke University, Middletown High School

Q: What skills did DCS teach you that apply in college?
A: The most helpful skills I took from DCS were social skills. As a high school sophomore, leaving home and living with strangers for three weeks was nerve racking, yet important. I was able to make lasting friendships and gained the skills necessary to thrive in a totally new environment. This was immensely important as I packed my bags and went to a school 300 miles away without a single familiar face. Living away from home while subsequently managing my academic and social life was a skillset developed over my years in DCS.

Q: What new obstacles did you face as a first-generation college student at Duke?
A: Duke is a private university with a very high cost of attendance. Fortunately, financial aid and scholarship has made it possible for me to attend such a school. However, many of my peers come from elite backgrounds, and that was a jarring environment for me. Many of my peers come from the upper 1%, and are often unaware of the struggles and barriers that come along with being a first generation low-income student. Finding ways to speak up for this community amongst students and administrators has been an ongoing, but rewarding, process.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to future scholars?
A: First and foremost, not every student is going to receive this opportunity. It is extremely unique, so take every single piece of advice that they offer you. This experience is more than preparing your college application. Think about each experience you gain from DCS and engage in reflection with your fellow cohort. Together, you will truly become a group of outstanding graduates ready to take on the next step in your academia.

Q: How did DCS help change the trajectory of your life?
A: I can honestly say that I would not be at Duke without it. It taught me to view my identity as a first-generation, low-income (FGLI) student less as a barrier and more as something to embrace. I am proud to say that I’ve taken that mentality with me to Duke and have helped to start an organization designed to support FGLI students on campus. As I finish my third year of college, I am constantly reminded of how different things could have been if I wasn’t a part of the Delaware College Scholars Cohort 1. And I am forever grateful that I was.

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Taylor Wayland - High Point University, Indian River High School

Q: What skills did DCS teach you that apply in college?
A: DCS taught me how to manage my time a lot better than I had 
previously in high school. The program also taught me valuable academic skills through math and writing/reading courses. They were a huge help to me when I was placed into Calculus and creative writing here at High Point.

Q: How does DCS currently support you, even when you are miles away? 
A: I hear from the team at DCS frequently, and it reminds me that I always have someone to talk to who understands what I’m going through and is there to give me advice. DCS is still a very large part of my life, regardless of the geographic divide.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to future scholars?
A: I would tell them to take in everything that your advisors and teachers tell you. Whether it’s something as simple as how to use Google Doc or as complex as how to prepare for the SAT, take it all in and use it in those situations.

Q: How did DCS help change the trajectory of your life?
A: DCS changed my life by making me more confident in what I wanted to do with my life and in knowing where I wanted to go to pursue my undergraduate education. Without DCS, I don’t know if I would’ve ended up at my dream institution on the path to my dream career.