Alumna building bridge to higher education

Published: September 9, 2014

Obtaining a college degree often seems like an impossible dream to many low-income and first generation high school students. Thankfully, they have a new advocate in their corner. Shauniece Drayton, UW Bothell alumna (’14), is the coordinator of a new partnership between UW Bothell’s Making Access to College Happen (MATCH) course and AmeriCorps College Access Corps, which was created to support these students at a pivotal time in their lives.

This is a high impact experience for everyone involved. UW Bothell students enrolled in the MATCH course work with low-income and first generation students in area high schools to make their transition to college easier. They provide mentorship, tutoring opportunities, and resources to help the teens through the college application process.

As a former recipient of The Husky Promise, a scholarship awarded to students from low-income families, Drayton is well aware of the challenges presented to these teenagers. When the time came to apply for college, Drayton was excited to become a Husky. Purple and gold seemed to be in her family’s DNA; her mom, aunts, and uncles all graduated from the University of Washington. “I only applied to UW Bothell,” she laughed, “so I was very relieved to get in!”

In her first year, Drayton turned to her advisor in the First Year Pre-Major program for guidance on exploring majors. “When I first came here, I planned on doing business,” explains Drayton. “But then I ended up switching to community psychology in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences department and it turned out to be completely perfect for me.”

Community psychology was the perfect match to the work that Drayton was already doing at UW Bothell. As a Peer Health Educator, she educated the young adult community on various health topics in order to give them the knowledge to make healthier decisions. That is one of the things Drayton admires about her field of study, “It’s more prevention based, not treatment based…trying to prevent an issue before it becomes a problem.”

Each of Drayton’s experiences prepared her for the next. The skills she acquired as a peer health educator allowed her to gain an Education internship at Planned Parenthood, where she helped high school students develop and execute community projects, shaping her leadership style to fit their needs. This experience helped her immensely when she mentored a group of girls in Zambia during a study abroad program through UW Bothell.

Drayton credits the First Year Pre-Major program for helping her find her passion and connecting her to the opportunities that have helped her become the strong leader she is today. She says she looks forward to doing whatever it takes to improve the lives of low-income and first generation students in the community.

Shauniece Drayton