CAA Awards Aya Morales Second Place Scholarship
July 17, 2015 – By Coach Lindsey
In early June, College Admissions Assistance, LLC (CAA) chose five students from their senior class who had participated in its eighth annual scholarship contest. Aya Morales of New Jersey was selected to be CAA’s second place winner of $750 to help pay for her college expenses. In a phone interview, Aya told me about her college and career plans, which have been influenced by her past struggles. Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Aya spends most of her time working at the local middle school, and she enjoys reading, drawing, and playing video games in her free time. This summer she will start her college career with the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program at Rutgers University. “EOF is a five-week summer program that is meant to help students adjust to college,” she explained. “I’ll earn credits, which will put me a little ahead of other incoming freshmen once school officially starts in the fall.” Aya said she is excited for the freedom and independence of college life, but even though she is not the first in her family to attend college, she is still concerned about the new academic challenges. However, Aya is known to overcome her challenges. She is transgender, which caused her some depression and anxiety during the first few years at her all-boy, Catholic high school. “There were times I couldn’t participate in activities because of my health issues, but I am much better now,” she explained. “It takes a while for people to understand.” Despite the challenges at her high school and any concerns she has about college, Aya has done her best to stay positive and busy. She plans to have this same attitude at Rutgers. While in high school, she was an editor and contributor for the school’s literary magazine, Spectrum. “I was a writer and an artist for the magazine,” she told me. Aya also did a lot of community service with a group called “Knights of Setonia.” In college, she plans to participate in the social justice activities that are close to her heart, and she feels that Rutgers is a perfect place for her to earn a degree in psychology. “Rutgers is very accommodating to all types of students. They make sure their student body is absolutely comfortable while earning their degrees,” she explained. “I will be living in special housing located in the all-female dorm, Douglas Hall.” She explained that Douglas Hall is part of the LGBTQ+ community at Rutgers, and the housing program is called Rainbow Perspective. Aya has big plans for her future; she wants to help people through their personal struggles and will be working toward earning a degree in psychology to get started. Along with her degree in psychology, Aya wants to minor in cognitive science and possibly gender/sexuality studies as well. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she plans to earn a master’s degree so she can run her own private practice as a counseling therapist or life coach. She said that her career choice was influenced by her past as well as the help offered through CAA’s services. “I realized very young that I am good at reading people, and I like to help people however I can. Originally, I thought about computer science, but CAA didn’t show that I fit in that area,” Aya said. “CAA helped me break down which careers fit my personality the best and helped me realize what I was capable of.” Aya said she would encourage others planning to attend college to study hard and focus where they do well. She said she would recommend CAA to others, especially if they do not have the support they need at high school or home. “CAA is convenient. The coaches are patient and easy to talk to,” she explained. “You can call CAA when you need guidance, and they help you figure out your next steps. Basically, you have someone organizing your life for you!” All of the CAA Coaches wish you the best of luck, Aya!