We are proud to empower and support nearly 1,600 New York City students this year so they can achieve college and career success. The students we serve come from a variety of backgrounds and have many different career interests, yet they all share one goal: to get into college, graduate from college, and go far in life.

We invite you to meet some of our incredible students by reading their stories of success.

Alexis Solano - "As a first-generation student, it gives me a good self-worth knowing each discovery and lesson learned plays a role.”

When Alexis Solano joined Bottom Line in 2018, he was enthusiastic about enrolling in Brooklyn College to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He participated in numerous Bottom Line campus socials where he met with other Brooklyn College students—getting to know their majors and interests and making new friends that will support his journey. However, at the onset of the pandemic, two years into his degree, Alexis’ priorities changed. Life outside of academia became difficult, and he had to put his education on pause to tackle the new challenges that came his way.

Two years later, Alexis credits his advisor as pivotal in elaborating a plan to pursue his new interests. “They were like a mentor to me,” Alexis says, “--helping me align my life priorities with my career goals.” His advisor created a plan for Alexis to pursue his new interest in Automotive Technology, connecting him to Bronx Community College for an affordable program. They also encouraged Alexis to apply for Bottom Line’s emergency funding to pay the program's application fee and help offset the costs of the new academic materials he’d need to embark on this journey. Alexis is now in his first year of Automotive Technology at Bronx Community College, hoping to specialize in transmission repairs following his degree completion. He hopes to leverage Bottom Line’s career support to obtain the networking skills necessary to land a successful job post-graduation. Alexis shared that “as a first-generation student, I wish people knew more about how important it is for individuals who are trying to fulfill their own goals. I have seen where there would be individuals who aren’t aware or know the resources that would help other first- generation students I have met. I feel there is still a lot to explore as I am still discovering resources each day.” Alexis also shared “a few of my strengths are persistence, resiliency, and the ability to have patience in difficult situation. I use these strengths to get through difficult days, motivating me to continue pursuing my degree.

These strengths, along with my parents’ support as being a first- generation student, motivates me everyday and every moment. The future is very overwhelming for me although thinking further about my experience as a first-generation student brings a mixture of emotions. It allows me to show how courageous I am and could be making a huge step not on my familiy but for me. As time has passed, I have learned the moments of doubt I had were all just built from fears of uncertainty. But now that I have become more experienced as a first-generation student, all that doubt would go away and I see that it is never impossible to achieve great things. As a first-generation student, it gives me a good self-worth knowing each discovery and lesson learned plays a role.”

Hussam Marzooq - "I am the first in my family to pursue an education and a degree in tech."

Hussam first learned about Bottom Line as a senior in high school. He had already agreed to enroll in City College but knew that getting into college was only half the equation to a successful career. Hussam shared “I am the first in my family to pursue an education and a career in tech. My family has a completely different educational and career background, which brings the point of me having to navigate unchartered territory. The higher education system is complex and my family could not possibly help me with the process. I had to learn it myself and with the help of Bottom Line.” He joined Bottom Line in the Fall of 2019 and worked with his advisor to complete all the prerequisites he needed to declare a major in Computer Science in 2021.

Hussam appreciates the knowledge and care his advisor brings to their career conversations, saying, “Bottom Line advisors have access to a lot of information and resources you may not know about.” Through Bottom Line he learned about Project Onramp and landed an internship at Pharmakon Advisors. As an Investment Intern, he got exposure to the bio-pharma industry and learned about the data science roles in that industry. As he prepares to graduate, Hussam is leveraging Bottom Line’s career support to successfully launch his career. His advisor connects him to job boards, events for young professionals, and Bottom Line's Career Expo, where he can network and connect with individuals in his field. Hussam hopes to use his degree and job readiness skills to land a job as a software engineer or data scientist upon graduation.

As a first-generation student, Hussam shared “that bears a heavy emotional and psychological weight. There is a great pressure to feel like failure is not an option and the fear of being a disappointment runs deep. Ensuring the mental wellbeing of first-generation students is important.”

Jannatul Rahman—“I wanted to go to college, but had no idea how to go about it."

Clara Barton High School - St. Joseph's College

Like many Bottom Line students, Jannatul Rahman is from a family of immigrant origin and is the first in her family to go to college. She left Bangladesh for the U.S. as a 13 year old teenager, yet just a few years later had to start navigating the overwhelming and complicated college application process. Jannatul stated, “I wanted to go to college, but had no idea how to go about it. When I was in the 12th grade, my guidance counselor handed me a flyer about Bottom Line. Bottom Line helped me sign up for a college prep course, talked to me about my college options, and helped me apply for scholarships.” By providing one-on-one support throughout the entire college application process, Bottom Line helped Jannatul attend a college that was a good, affordable match—the first step in making sure that she would graduate from college.

Our support did not end there. Once students are in college, Bottom Line advises and mentors students for up to 6 years to ensure that they have the support they need to earn a degree. “I didn’t know how to study when I entered college and I had no time management skills.” Through monthly, in-person meetings with her Bottom Line advisor, Jannatul successfully adapted to the rigors of college. Jannatul is now in her senior year of college and has a GPA of 3.3. “Because of Bottom Line, there have been checkpoints along the way making sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Bottom Line.”

Orlando Geigel—"I thought I was going to drop out and work at Starbucks. But I didn’t."

International HS at Lafayette - SUNY Potsdam

Orlando Geigel is among the first class of Bottom Line’s New York program to graduate from college, but his path to success was not always so promising. After attending high school in the Bronx, Orlando started college at a two-year program where he struggled academically. A friend told him about Bottom Line and he recognized that he needed help if he were to make it to graduation. Bottom Line helped him to transfer to Lehman College and later to SUNY Potsdam for a full college experience. Orlando graduated with a degree in Psychology and currently works for City Year as a fifth grade teacher back in the Bronx at P.S. 75. “I still remember my first semester of college. I ended up with a 1.6 GPA. I thought I was going to drop out and work at Starbucks. But I didn’t. During that spring semester, I was at Bottom Line almost every single day getting back on track. They became like a family to me. And this past spring, I walked across the stage with a degree in my hand and a smile on my face.”