Angela Pagliuca

Video

Boston Latin Academy
UMass Dartmouth

I graduated from Boston Latin Academy in 2006 and have been part of Bottom line for about 6 years now. I never would have thought my relationship with the program would have held strong for all this time, but it has and I am very grateful.

I grew up in East Boston, which is a busy and noisy city. Most people know it as the home of Logan Airport. I grew up in a three-story apartment owned by my grandfather. I lived with my mother, father, and two sisters for most of my younger years. However, what seemed like a perfect little family wasn't so perfect. Unfortunately, my father never played a huge role in my life. He was there in the sense of his paycheck and he slept there, but that was the extent of it. However, I would like to think through his absence I grew stronger and formed a greater love and appreciation for my mother, who was essentially a single parent raising three daughters. My mother was a hairdresser, but when she was 30 she developed emphysema and COPD and retired and became a housewife, or as my father would say "his maid." So for pretty much my whole life my mother was ill, but that never stopped her from being nothing short of the best mother.

I became familiar with Bottom Line my junior year of high school. I was never a great student in high school. I had the potential, but I never applied myself. As a result, many of my teachers told me that I would not go to college because I wouldn't be accepted. I began to believe what my teachers were saying and was discouraged when it was time to begin the college application process. It also didn't help that I didn't have guidance at home because neither of my parents went past grammar school and my older sister didn't go to college.

One day as I was talking to my best friend, Sarah, she told me about this great program she was in that was helping her apply to college and get ready for the transition. I told her that it was no use for me since I probably wouldn't get in anyway. But, thankfully, she was persistent and told me that Bottom Line was no joke and they could work miracles. I laughed and told her she was crazy, but I agreed to go with her to see what all the talk was about. I was nervous at first when going there, but I easily warmed up after meeting the friendly staff and being offered some of the Jolly Rancher candy they always had in the office! I was introduced to Jackie, who eventually became my College Access counselor. She was so friendly and she made me feel like I could get into college. She told me about schools like UMass Dartmouth and Salem State that had bridge programs to help students like me who didn't do too well in high school. I worked closely with her that summer and through my senior year. She helped me apply to UMass Dartmouth, UMass Amherst, and Salem State. What made me feel so comfortable at Bottom Line and with Jackie was that everyone there was willing to help me. I remember going on college tours with Miguel, who made me walk halfway across the world at UMass Amherst, and Dave, who talked to me about the great summer program that Salem State had to offer. Although Jackie had other students, she was great at making me feel like I was her only student and kept checking on me to make sure I got my stuff done and submitted on time. Their commitment to me is what really motivated me and guided me to be where I am today! With Bottom Line's help, I decided to attend UMass Dartmouth through their College Now program.

I didn't think after I graduated high school I would ever again talk to the people at Bottom Line, but I was wrong! They told me about the College Success program and how counselors would visit me a few times a year on campus, check in on me, and send me yummy care packages and thoughtful cards. I was happy to know that I would continue to have them for support as I transitioned into the college life. This was when I met Ginette; she was my counselor starting my freshman year of college, back in 2006. I must say our relationship has grown so much through the years and she has become a great friend and someone I can go to for guidance on anything!

In 2007, my sophomore year at UMass Dartmouth, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. It became difficult to be at school and focus on my studies. I wanted to be home with my mother more than anything. However, she reminded me of her wish: to see me graduate one day and become a successful nurse that could take care of patients like her. It was the hardest time for me knowing I was far away and there was nothing I could do. There were times that I felt so alone and didn't know where to turn. But then my Bottom Line counselor reminded me that I would always have a shoulder.

When my mother passed away in October of 2009, Ginette was right there to catch me when she knew I was going to fall. My mother was my rock and number-one motivator regardless of her illness and Ginette was aware of this. She constantly stalked me with phone calls, emails, and even visits, which meant the most to me. Knowing that she would take the time to reach out and travel all the way to campus to reach out her hand meant a lot to me and I am sure to many other students, as well. I am so grateful to Ginette for helping to fill the role of my rock and motivator through my college journey.

In the end, I realized that my friend, Sarah, was right: Bottom Line did work miracles. They certainly helped turn my life around and showed me that regardless of my circumstances, I should always strive to succeed. Their persistence and encouragement allowed me to get through the toughest times of my life. I can honestly say that because of this wonderful program and phenomenal staff, I am in my final semester and about to graduate with a 3.5 GPA and a Bachelors degree in Nursing.

I am grateful to all the Bottom Line staff and especially Ginette for their kind words, billions of emails, and great visits: because of you, I was able to Get In, Graduate, and (I know I will) go far!

 

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