MMSF Quarterly Spotlight

Every quarter, we spotlight a few of our students and volunteers who have been nominated by MMSF leadership for their passion and dedication. In this post, we'll be highlighting two seniors, Leydi Agustin and Derek Wong, and volunteer Sean O'Sullivan, who raised $3,700 during our Holiday Giving Campaign!

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Why did you join Minds Matter?
I immigrated to the United States from Guatemala four years ago. When I first arrived in the United States, I didn’t know a single word in English and I was unfamiliar with the education system in the United States.

My assistant principal at SF International High School suggested that I apply to the Minds Matter because it was a good opportunity for me to develop and improve my English skills. Also, with the summer programs that Minds Matter offers to students, it was a good way for me to get familiar with the education system of the United States and at the same time gain some experience to be ready for college.

I felt lucky when I got accepted to MMSF because it was going to be my first time working with mentors and I was excited about that because I knew that with their support they could help me build my future.

Your favorite MMSF memory is:
My favorite MMSF memory is when we do a Thanksgiving celebration.  I really like this part of the year when Minds Matter because everyone brings food and all the mentees and mentors from different classes come together and we eat and spend time like the family we are. This is an exciting experience because this is one of the occasions where we can make strong connections with our mentors and the rest of the mentees.

What are your goals & dreams?
In the future, I want to be an interior designer. Also, in the future, I want to start an organization in Guatemala where I can provide educational opportunities to people there. Most of the people in my town have only finished 6th grade because they have to work from a young age to support their large families. My dream is to one day help them to find work opportunities and, at the same time, give them the chance to keep going to school and prepare for a better future.

Any advice to other MMSF students?
My advice for MMSF students is to always have hope. Sometimes you will feel like everything is going wrong and that you can not go anymore, but there will always be someone who will help you to get up and to keep going. There is always something inside of you that will push you to keep going, and you really have to listen to it. There will be a lot of toxic people around you, but you should remember who you are and where you want to go. Don't let the negativity get you down. Everything that you do, do it for yourself, do it because you will feel proud of yourself and because it's something you want for yourself. Don’t do things just because everyone likes it- be yourself! Never be afraid to be different because it's the different ones that make a change.

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Why did you join Minds Matter?
After learning about Minds Matter from a former mentee (Christina Yu Class of 2016), I think that one of the many reasons I wanted to join Minds Matter was the help and support that I would receive by my TWO mentors with school and with my college applications. In addition to receiving help at school and with college applications, the summer programs definitely made me want to join Minds Matter.

What's your favorite MMSF memory?
Every chill session because of the activities we get to do, ranging from Jeopardy to Mafia. Also, that one time when one of my friends, Laura Jian, gave a really funny presentation on Boston University.

What are your goals and dreams?
My goals as of right now consist of surviving my last semester of high school, and trying to relax a bit more.

As for my dreams, I am currently hoping that I get into the colleges that I applied to and long for the days and nights of summer (when I can sleep more).

Any advice to other MMSF students?
Advice to SophomoresCongrats on your first year of Minds Matter! (Shoutout to my brother, Dustin Wong, who is a current sophomore at the time of writing this.) As you prepare for your first summer program, I would like to encourage you to try new things at the program you're attending. Maybe dine at that restaurant instead of eating dining hall food. Or maybe approach another student at the program you're currently attending and ask about life (or anything, up to you). (These are suggestions probably made by your mentors already, but you get the point.) As you spend your time away from home, think about the setting you would like to spend your 4 years at college in and compare it to the setting of the school you're at/going to (depends on when you read this). Definitely try to have fun at your summer program as well!

As you enter into your junior year, you'll get more time to explore colleges and more time to learn more about yourself. Just remember, at the end of the day, always be yourself and be weird (because being weird is normal).

Advice to Juniors
Congrats on surviving one of the most (if not the most) challenging years in your life thus far! You made it! Breathe! (Taste the joy of temporary freedom before college applications! Sorry, too soon?) 

As you finish up your standardized testing (or have already finished with it), just remember that you aren't defined by the numbers on a piece of paper (despite what our parents may say). A person is made up of much more than numbers: experiences, personality, interests, hobbies, cells, thoughts, ideas, blah blah blah (you get the point).

Keep growing your growth mindsets and keep unfixing your fixed ones (or at least try to; it doesn't hurt to try). Keep on being yourself and have fun! And as the Green brothers always say "Don't forget to be awesome."

P.S. Oh, and definitely start on your college apps (research, write, etc). Like, now. Or whenever they release the new prompts, up to you.
P.P.S. But don't wait too long, or you'll risk stressing yourself out too much later.

Advice in General
Life happens and sometimes we may find ourselves in situations that we may not want to be in. We may feel down or feel like we may want to give up, but I assure you that it'll get better. Maybe not this second, maybe not this day, maybe not in this week, or maybe even this year, but I assure you that it WILL get better. Find your friends and family (or your Minds Matter family) and they'll do their best to support you, but remember to advocate for yourself first. 

On a lighter note, I was going to end with a really clever joke, so I guess I'll do just this one:

A bacon sandwich walks into a bar and orders a whiskey.
"Sorry", said the bartender, "but we don't serve food here."

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Why did you want to join Minds Matter?
I first heard about Minds Matter when they came to PwC to give a corporate presentation. I initially went for the free lunch, but ended up hearing about the program. At that time, I had been living in SF for 8 months and had my bearings, so I wanted to know how I could get involved in the community and commit to something with a meaningful impact. I especially liked the thought of building out a meaningful relationship with a student, where I could help them fulfill themselves.

Minds Matter seemed like a way to help students close the opportunity and achievement gap, and I liked the idea of joining an organization that recognized these students’ potential. This led me to apply and, afterwards, I went to an open house which solidified all of my expectations. I was really thrilled when I got the news that I was chosen!

What's your favorite MMSF memory?
Tricky, there are so many great memories! I guess my favorite is very recent. It was coming back to Minds Matter after a year and seeing all the familiar faces- other mentors, my mentee, Cindy, and my co-mentor, Caitlin. It was really exciting talking to Cindy about her summer experience and being able to witness how much she’s grown and changed- even in just one summer! Getting to take that in was such a defining moment.

What do you do outside of session?
If the weather is nice, I'm usually at Dolores Park or the beach with friends, hanging out. Or in general, most likely at the movies! I'm a huge movie buff and I love movies. The last one I saw was "I saw Tonya", the Tonya Harding movie. It was really good!

Talk to me about:
I'm passionate and interested talking about current events that have ties to social justice issues. I'm especially interested in being able to get people's different perspectives and how it affects them on a personal level. I find those conversations fascinating because you learn so much about people and can really deepen your friendships. On a lighter side, I love talking about music!