Discipline and passion inspire first generation student

Carmel Wright poses on campus as a first generation student

I believe courage is not merely the absence of fear, but rather the evidence of love. This love compels you to accomplish things. It took substantial courage for me to consider going to college because I am a first generation college student. Even more courage was required to continue navigating this academic journey. For me, it was a love for children and my nation, which compelled me to begin study at Sacramento City College and guided my choice to focus in political science and education administration. After facing an impediment in my physical mobility the prior year, I decided to challenge myself to break through physical hindrances and began to play tennis as a college freshman. Even as I gained mobility and discovered a sport, which I would end up playing at the collegiate level the next two years, I also broke through invisible walls I had believed could contain me. I conquered the fear of failure and soon discovered that my desire to learn easily translated into academic excellence when paired with discipline and passion.

While I have always loved reading and have a constantly active mind, my biggest challenge as a student was believing I was smart enough to succeed and become a leader in academia. My ability to overcome this challenge was greatly aided by the individuals who believed in me before I believed in myself. Of particular significance was my academic mentor, Andrea Shaw, who I met after being awarded The Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education. It was incredibly impactful for me to meet on a regular basis with someone who assumed I would succeed. Her support and influence in my life gives me confidence to embrace new challenges with optimism. I am beyond grateful for her constant and reliable investment into my life.


Thus encouraged by a team of friends and mentors I graduated with two associates degrees last June. I completed the first stint of my college journey while working part-time, taking maximum loads of coursework, playing tennis as a full-time college athlete, leading as executive vice president of our campus’ honors society, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and continuing to mentor young individuals while living in one of Sacramento’s most under-serviced and fiscally challenged areas. I applied to and was accepted by University of California, Los Angeles during my second year at Sacramento City College. They not only offered me substantial scholarships but also invited me to apply for the Regents Scholarship. Only the top 1.5% of freshman applicants and an even smaller portion of transfer students are invited to apply for this scholarship and of these students, only one hundred individuals are awarded this prestigious scholarship.

I was honored to be chosen as a 2016 Regents Scholar of the University of California,

Los Angeles and was inducted into the Regent’s Society during my first quarter there.

At the same time that I was making the decision to move to Southern California to study I was made aware of the Pearson Student Advisory Board and encouraged to apply by my mentor, Andrea Shaw. This opportunity intrigued me because of my passion to study and to transform our education system. I applied and was selected as one of the 2016-2017 board members. It has been so rewarding to work with this diverse and talented board as we tackle projects. My voice is valued, and the perspectives I find by listening to other board members are irreplaceable to me. Not only are we a team of passionate strategists, but we are also a board which demonstrates a true concern and value for the well-being of students. Sharing this common desire to improve education and the curriculum used by students is a special part of the Pearson Student Advisory Board. It knits a very diversely talented group of student advisors into a team of innovative friends and co-leaders.

Now, as I begin the final stint of my journey toward attaining my bachelor degree, I am even more driven to address areas within the education system that need improvement. As a Pearson Student Advisory Board member, I am working to study and raise awareness on the academic impact of mentorship. Beyond my own experience, I see a common thread in the lives of those who have successfully pursued learning: before individuals can embrace the tools and opportunities available to them, they must feel valued and supported. I dream of my future while holding this awareness. Consequently, I see myself pursuing a law degree and a master’s degree in the field of education administration. I believe the future of our nation lies within the minds of our children, and I intend to devote my life to seeing them empowered both personally and academically.

Carmel Wright headshot

Carmel’s drive to become a stateswoman who reforms the education system is the product of working with children for many years, and this passion grew as she spent two years researching and living in Sacramento’s most under-serviced neighborhood while attaining her associate’s degrees at Sacramento City College. Recovering from losing mobility in her leg for a year, Carmel began to play tennis as a freshman and soon joined the Intercollegiate Tennis Team. She simultaneously embraced a leadership role as vice president of her Phi Theta Kappa chapter, where she piloted a mentorship program.

Carmel received the Outstanding Woman Leadership Award and was recognized as a top scholar/athlete on her campus. Her heart to serve opened the door for her to speak at a national honor convention where she also received awards for her academic leadership. Now beginning study at UCLA, Carmel intends to continue her work with children and to study the education system she longs to improve.