Jennifer Ventura joined CPE’s program in 2015 as an 11th grader attending Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, DC. She joined CPE because she believed CPE would support and guide her through the college process and the obstacles and challenges she would face as a first-generation college student. Jennifer participated in many CPE events throughout high school that helped her gain many skills. Now, Jennifer is currently working as a Program Coordinator with CPE and as a Creative Director with Service Women’s Action Network.
What’s one memorable moment you have of you and your mentor?
A memorable moment I had with my current mentor, Paige, would be when we first established our mentee-mentor relationship. When I was in my second year of college, I was a Volunteer Engagement intern with CPE, and Paige was my supervisor. A few months into the internship, Paige mentioned that as I was helping with the recruitment of mentors, I too could try to find a mentor. But I brought up the idea that she could be my mentor. I was already viewing her as a mentor because Paige was exposing me to new things, was training me, and giving me skills that I needed to be successful, so why not? After our conversation and us both agreeing to the idea, I remember she went outside of the room and informed everyone that she was my new mentor. I will never forget that moment.
How did your mentor help you with the college application process?
As I was in the process of transferring from George Mason University to another school, Paige was assisting me. We were tracking deadlines, requirements, and the correct paperwork I needed to find the best fit for me. Plus, she would go with me to tour the schools and ask questions I didn’t even know I should have asked. She was extremely helpful with the transferring processes.
What college did you go to and what career path did you choose?
I attended the University of the District of Columbia and graduated Magna Cum Laude from their social work program. I decided to attain my social work degree because I wanted to give back to my community. As someone who grew-up in a low-income community, I encountered and met many people who helped families and young people gain success and be in a better place in their life. I want to be able to help individuals figure out their strengths, and the tools they need to be successful.
How did COVID effect your last year of college?
Luckily, COVID did not affect my last year of college that much. I was able to adapt to online courses and even secure an online internship. As someone who worked while attending school, online courses made everything easier. I finally had enough time to relax, eat, and still get all of my work done! Having the chance to cross the stage with all my friends and classmates and having the opportunity to celebrate all my hard work and dedication was what got affected by COVID-19.
How did CPE and your mentor help get you through that challenging time?
Adriona, my program coordinator from the college team, was continuously checking up on me and making sure that I was okay financially, academically, and mentally throughout our check-in call. Adriona would give me career advice and helped me realized what I wanted to do after school, especially because I was contemplating whether I wanted more experience in the field or to obtain my masters. My mentor was also checking on my family. She was one of my primary support systems throughout COVID.
Has the pandemic made it hard to secure employment as a recent graduate?
I was fortunate enough where the internship I had my senior year offered me a position as their Creative Director. I also had the opportunity to interview with other organizations for other jobs while in school. Three months after graduating from college, I was lucky enough to secure a position with CPE as their Program Coordinator on the college team. All of the hard work and time I dedicated to past internships made it easy for me to advocate for myself and show employers all the skills I excel in and everything I can achieve in their organization.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The advice that I have always followed and will continue to live by is that it’s not necessary to rush or compare yourself to others because you are only competing with yourself. You are on your own timeline, not anyone else’s.