Justin Jimenez ’08

Looking For a Chance

Justin Jimenez began preparing for college when he was only 10 years old. That’s when he first applied to The Steppingstone Academy. Over the next 14 months, Justin attended Steppingstone classes during the school year and for six weeks each summer. His family also worked closely with his Steppingstone Advisor to navigate the process of applying to schools and finding the right financial aid package.

“Steppingstone helped me develop the crucial skills I needed,” Justin says of earning admission to Noble and Greenough School in seventh grade. He continued to benefit from Steppingstone’s Support Services in high school, participating in college tours, discounted SAT classes, and tutoring.

Creating Opportunity

“A lot of kids wouldn’t have access to these opportunities without Steppingstone,” explains Justin, who is a first-generation American. “If you give kids like me the chance, they’ll grab it whole-heartedly.”

Justin and his family made sure to keep seeking out those opportunities. By high school, he’d already become captain of the cross-country team, a musician creating his own music, and leader of many clubs at school.

Justin also decided to give back to Steppingstone in high school and earned an internship as a summer Teaching Assistant (TA). “TAs have such an impact on Scholars who are just starting the program,” he says. “After being helped so much by Steppingstone, I knew I wanted to come back.”

Finding Adventure

Nobles provided Justin the opportunity to travel to Spain and Romania, inspiring him to restart the school’s Romania club to raise money for Romania’s Children’s Relief, a nonprofit that supports abandoned children.

His biggest adventure, though, was college. After working with his Steppingstone Advisor on applications, Justin earned acceptance to Oberlin College where he majored in sociology and creative writing, with a minor in Africana studies.

He continued to explore the world and attended a study abroad program in Cuba. There, he completed an independent project on the intersections of hip-hop and social change, including interviews with local Cuban artists. He attributes part of his success to his time with Steppingstone, saying, “I don’t think I’d be as in control of my future as I am now without Steppingstone.”

A Homebase For Life

Today, Justin works at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay in Boston and helps connect children with mentors, just as he mentored Scholars as a TA. “I have a set of resources that will be there for a long time,” he reflects. “Steppingstone has made a giant difference in my life.”

Justin remains connected to Steppingstone as an Alumnus and attended our 2019 Annual Meeting because, as he notes, “You’re a Steppingstone Scholar for life.”