All a dream: How Prep for Prep changed my life
Air x Prep for Prep
Prep for Prep's mission is to develop future leaders by creating access for young people of color to first-rate educational, leadership development, and professional advancement opportunities. As part of our inaugural ChAIRity of the Year initiative, Air is proud to announce its financial and in-kind support of this nonprofit.
Visit this link to donate and help provide educational access and leadership development opportunities to their students. Learn more about it with this firsthand account by Prep for Prep alum — and our very own Head of Product and Design — Diógenes Brito.
It was during the first half of my first grade year in Colombia that I officially became a gifted student. Gifted because first graders in Colombia do it all: addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and writing in cursive.
So when my family moved back to the United States, I basically didn’t have to learn much until fourth grade. I grew up in Washington Heights where I made it into a gifted school, which was a good thing, because that’s where I got the application for Prep for Prep. I remember this vividly, because my sister got the same application but never showed it to my mother, who was furious when she found out. So she became like the TSA. Every day as soon as I got home she’d demand: “Show me what’s in your bag!”
Washington Heights, where my family lived, was at the time a mostly Dominican neighborhood. My mother (a teacher) and my father (an electrician) both really valued education, but as a kid my expectations for success were pretty much “big TV and an Xbox.” It wasn’t until I got into an independent school that I learned about what was possible — that there was this entire realm of things I could do, places I could go, and people I could meet someday.
I don’t remember getting accepted into Prep for Prep when I was 10, but I do recall the grueling exam. There’s an application and a big, fat test — probably the most difficult test I took until the SAT. I remember the intense summer program, my roller bag and my million extra books. And I remember doing it on top of actual school after summer was over. After Prep for Prep, high school could be difficult at times, but never felt nearly as difficult as Prep. It wasn’t really until I was halfway through Stanford, declaring my engineering major, that things began to feel that challenging again.
My experience in Prep was formative. I learned how to study — how to truly focus, strategize, and plan. Honestly, that time is a bit of a blur for me, so I think I’m hypothesizing based on how I feel today and what led to that change. Like that Notorious B.I.G. song, “it was all a dream.” It was also my first experience being surrounded by very academically motivated people. It really taught me how much surrounding yourself with the right people matters. Just being around excellence lifts you up, if only through osmosis. I felt it at my independent school; again at Stanford, and have always since tried to seek that out in my work life; I want to surround myself with people who care about pursuing excellence in a way that’s ethically and socially conscious. That’s why I ended up at Air.
I recently became a member of the Board of Trustees at Prep. It’s a privilege to be able to give more back to the organization, both in fundraising support and in helping improve and expand the programs and curriculum in whatever way I can. It’s usually pretty hard to pinpoint pivotal moments in your life after which everything changed. Attending Prep for Prep is very clearly one of those moments, which is incredible to think about.
If it wasn’t for Prep, I wouldn’t have ended up at Collegiate, which led to Stanford, and much of my life after. I’m so grateful to Prep for totally changing the arc of my life for the better. The thing is, I’m not an outlier. Prep consistently trains and equips young people of color to succeed. It’s truly something to be able to pay it forward to a new generation of kids like me. It’s pretty cool.