My Ascend Story – Shanice Mateo
By MLT Ascend Scholar, Shanice Mateo
Meet MLT Ascend Scholar Shanice Mateo, a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz. Shanice shares how she overcame homesickness her first semester and how her Ascend Coach supported her.
When I first got to college, even though it was only an hour away, it felt so far from home. I was in a new environment, with people from all different backgrounds. I was asking myself, “Where do I fit?” I had a hard time finding my place and started to feel really homesick. I’m a shy person by nature, and I was scared and uncomfortable. I was beginning to think this place wasn’t for me.
I love my MLT Ascend Coach, Stacey! Being connected to her before I got to college was like fate; we clicked right away. She took me in like family.
Stacey encouraged me to participate in the Hispanic Week showcase—an event to celebrate our culture and what makes us different. My coach told me, “You gotta do it! It’s gonna be good.” Without her encouragement, I wouldn’t have done it. As soon as I got to the event, everyone was nice. It was like family. I felt comfortable right away; I felt like myself. I learned that you have to DO something to feel a part of at school. You have to do something to feel like it’s for you.
I know Stacey wants to see me succeed. I was a nervous wreck when I first got to school. I was really anxious and overwhelmed, not just with the social situation but with all my schoolwork. Stacey would FaceTime with me and help me. Sometimes I felt shy calling her, but then I realized, “That’s what she is there for!” I’m so grateful to have her as my coach.
I’ve also learned that it’s important to try new things.
You have to embrace your surroundings and embrace yourself to find your place.
Now, I know that I can pick myself back up. Before, I would always doubt myself. You have to tell yourself, “I can do this!” And now I believe that I can! My support network, my coach, my family, they all believe in me. Because of them, I know that I can be somebody someday. I want the best for myself.
Even though I don’t yet know what I want to be in life, I know that I want to help others. Maybe I’ll become a doctor. Maybe I’ll be a teacher, or a psychologist. Because of the support I’ve gotten from MLT and my family, I know I’m in a good place to figure it out!