Hello North Star blog readers! Today I am happy to share Kyron’s blog about mentoring first generation college applicants, which is inspirational on many levels. In addition to being proud to know Kyron, I am also proud to support Walter by donating my help with his essays. Thanks again to Kyron for blogging throughout your MBA application process.


Thank you to everyone who took time out to read the first blog! I wanted to starting writing blogs on Karen’s site to share my story and my journey with other current and future hopefuls. There’s really no name for this particular blog series, but as a future Brand Manager/Brand Strategist, you can continue to follow my journey on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #Everyday2MBA.

On Tuesday, July 14, I turned 24 years old. Ever since I could remember, birthdays were the only day when excessive attention was accepted and celebrated without any judgment.

But my 24th Birthday was unlike any prior celebration. I was inspired to redirect the attention and celebration elsewhere, onto someone I believed my network and friends should know.

Back in June, I met a rising High School Senior named Walter at an event. He wore a white collared shirt, a red tie, blazer and suit pants. We spoke briefly about his background and he effortlessly articulated his vision and the goals that he aggressively set out to accomplish. Walter made a great 1st impression and before we both realized it he sold me on his dream and I brought in. We wrapped up the conversation with him inquiring about shadowing someone in the Mayor’s office for a day and about possible talk with the Mayor. I happily agreed and gave him my card.

Well, that very next week, Walter was shadowing Morris Hobson, Social Media & Black Male Engagement Specialist and they both stopped by my desk and we all began to talk more in depth about his plans for college. During this conversation, I came to learn about his hardship; he couldn’t get in touch with his school counselor and/or teacher to retrieve his SAT voucher so he could take the SAT, his family is low-income and the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on SAT tests and college application fees was daunting.

After hearing this story, I turned to Morris and said, “this is insane, we have to do something.” I empathized with this young kid’s story because when I was applying to colleges, I also needed help paying for college application fees. This conversation happened around July 2nd and I decided at that moment that I was going to use my platform – my birthday – as a fundraiser to raise money to eliminate this barrier so that Walter could concentrate on getting into the colleges that would help him reach his goals.

There are two types of investors, people who invest in things and people who invest in people.

I thought, if I could get this young man to speak to my friends, then of course they would invest and for two very different but important reasons. They would give because I, as their friend asked, and also because this young man’s story is common, but his drive is inspiring. I had no doubt that by the end of the night, they would believe in him as much as I do.

We raised over $400 total for Walter and an organization approached us to match our donations to be allocated for Walter’s first semester books and supplies. We raised enough money for Walter to take the SAT twice, if needed, to pay for his college application fees and his first semester books as an undergraduate.

Additionally, the intangible value is that I will personally review his college application to college to ensure that Walter is putting his best foot forward and he now has access to a network of young professionals who are willing to support him in his journey.

Walter had no idea that I was raising money for him, until he arrived at the party.

I saw Walter about two days later and he told me as his eyes began to water, “Failure is no longer an option.” Eliminating this barrier for him was already my best birthday gift to myself, but him recognizing that failure is no longer an option was humbling and gratifying and a deep reminder that when we focus on the work, focus on others, we become better versions of ourselves.



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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
North Star Admissions Consulting