Gypsy is a first-generation high school graduate and will be going on to study Communications and Public Relations at the University of New Haven.
Gypsy has been part of the ASPIRE program since 6th grade, when she joined because her parents worked a lot and weren’t home after school.
“It was a great way for me to stay focused while also having fun,” she said. Joining ASPIRE’s Girl’s Group and having the opportunity to relate to others in the program helped her express herself in a productive way. The program also gave her a quiet space to study and the oversight to ensure she stayed on top of her schoolwork.
“It wasn’t a regular after-school program,” she said. “It was nice to know that I had a safe place where I wasn’t judged so I could talk to people,” she said.
That aspect of ASPIRE was important to Gypsy when her grades began slipping, and she turned to Amy Jeffereis, Director of ASPIRE and Youth Development, for help.
“I sat there and opened up to Amy and had a talk with her. She made sure that my feelings were heard. Trying to go to my parents was difficult because they didn’t understand how to help me with school. The program was my only other resource,” she said.
Each day, Amy sat with Gypsy to go over her schoolwork and ensure she understood the lessons and homework.
“She took the time out of her day to help me and I ended up getting through it. That changed my perspective – I had lost motivation and was overwhelmed. This was a moment of realization that anything is possible,” she said.
Since then, Gypsy has been a high achiever throughout school. She was named captain of her cheerleading team, helps 8th grade students transition into freshman year as part of Link Crew, and earned high honors throughout high school. She also volunteers and works at an ice cream shop.
All her hard work has paid off. Gypsy is the 2021 recipient of the Sullivan-Kindler Scholarship which will offset most of the costs of her education. “The scholarship helps me focus on the learning aspect of school instead of having to stress about how I’m going to pay for my next meal. It’s a big life-changing blessing,” she said.
In the future, Gypsy hopes to become an immigration lawyer. With parents from Costa Rica, Gypsy said the topic is something she is passionate about. As a child, she witnessed a moment of cruelty against her mother who is a Spanish-speaker.
“It really bothered me. In that moment I just froze. I didn’t have any words and I didn’t speak up for her – it really hurt me. I felt that my voice was taken in that moment.”
Gypsy hopes to use her education to give a voice to those who feel the same.
“I think the ASPIRE program has shaped me into the person I am today. I don’t think I’d be here without them – I wouldn’t have grown into the woman I am today if it wasn’t for them,” she said.