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826LA’s 7th Annual Great LA Personal Statement Weekend: Going Forward Confidently

“When I’m accepted into college and successful in life, I’ll remember and cherish today because of everyone in this room who has dedicated their time to ensuring that I have presented myself as my absolute best. This organization has boosted my confidence. Before today I was scared I would make mistakes, but because of today, I have broken that fear and am forever grateful.”

On November 12 and 13th 826LA, in partnership with LA Promise Fund, hosted the 7th Great LA Personal Statement Weekend. Over two days, hope, triumph, and healing were found in the classrooms and courtyards of Manual Arts High School. 162 students from various LAUSD schools were able to start, edit, or finish their personal statements with one-of-one help from hundreds of volunteers.

Writing a personal statement, the essay students need to complete their college applications, is no easy feat: it takes courage and vulnerability for both students and volunteers to share life stories and form deep connections. Over four hours, tears are shed and challenges are faced head-on. The resulting emotions of GLAPSW — the joy, relief, satisfaction, confidence, and most importantly, the hope — are emotions that students and volunteers take with them into the world.

Read inspiring volunteer and student testimonials from GLAPSW below: 

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“I’m glad that everyone in this room exists — that they’ve taken time out of their schedules to help me get to where they are.”

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“I  feel so inspired. I feel like I was partnered with a student that I needed to meet in my life right now. We were so alike. I’m so in awe of what she is capable of.”
“This morning, I came in with absolutely nothing, but I came out with my college essay finished! Not only did my tutor help me to open up, but now I get to submit my college applications. I’m so happy.”
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“It was truly inspiring and eye opening and emotional and rewarding on a million different levels. I feel so fortunate to have been included.”

31301301835_4e2bbda673_k“I realized that I was a better writer than I thought that I was.”
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“At first, she told me she was an English Language Learner student and then by the end, I found out she knew four languages — English, Spanish, her native dialect, and ASL. I’ll I can say is I’m amazed.”

826LA thanks the students, educators, and staff of the participating high schools: Manual Arts Senior High School, Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School, West Adams Preparatory High School, College Bridge Academy Watts, Animo Watts Charter High School, James A. Foshay Learning Center, Ánimo Venice Charter High School, and Susan Miller Dorsey High School.

All photos courtesy of Jorge Segura

What’s next? 

Now more than ever, a community of volunteers that cares about the success of students is essential. Working with students is one of the best ways to build hope in the coming years. 

Want to be a part of our biggest publishing project of the year?

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the 1992 uprising in Watts, students at Alain Le Roy Locke High School in Watts will use the history of their community to take a look at the present and imagine what the future holds for themselves and for their city.

Want to help students discover the power of their stories? Email Kenny Ng to sign up or learn more.

Interested in helping students with scholarship essays? 

If you are interested in helping students shape their personal statements into scholarship essays to obtain college funding, email T Sarmina for more details about a project starting in December at the 826LA Writers’ Room at Manual Arts High School.

Not an 826LA volunteer yet? Sign up for an upcoming Volunteering 101!


Check out more photos from the weekend here

To read about 826LA’s 6th Annual Great LA Personal Statement Weekend, click here.

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