Marynee Pontes ’05

Surviving the College Application Process with Steppingstone’s Support

Each fall, as high school seniors settle into the academic year, one thing weighs heavily on their minds: college. Marynee Pontes, a junior at Tufts University, remembers the feeling well. Although she’d been preparing for college for seven years–since the first day she set foot in a Steppingstone classroom–the application process was complex and daunting.

Marynee at her commencement from The Steppingstone Academy
Marynee at her commencement from The Steppingstone Academy

Determined to attend a competitive school, Marynee knew the Advisors at Steppingstone could help her build the strongest application possible. “I didn’t have access to outside tutors or college counselors like many of my peers,” Marynee explains. “But I always knew Steppingstone was there for me, ready to provide the support I needed.”

Throughout her senior year, Marynee took advantage of almost every resource Steppingstone offered. A College Boot Camp workshop helped her perfect her résumé. “Suggestions were squeezed onto the front and all over the back,” she remembers. The discounted SAT classes offered by Steppingstone helped her increase her test score by 200 points. And when Marynee and her mother sat down to apply for financial aid, they had the support of Steppingstone partner uAspire. “We had someone there with us, showing us how to fill out forms and answering all our questions–it was invaluable,” she says.

Over winter break, with deadlines rapidly approaching, Marynee returned to Steppingstone yet again, this time for help with her college essay. “I was so stressed out, so I called Mr. Waldman, the director of college services, and he said I could come in the next day.” After working together for almost two hours, Marynee left the Steppingstone office feeling confident. “I felt so much better after our meeting. I even had him read over my essay a few more times for last minute revisions.”

Looking back, Marynee says there’s one thing she truly couldn’t have done without: Steppingstone’s unwavering belief in her ability to succeed. “When I told my Steppingstone Advisor, Ms. Milla, that I wanted to apply to Tufts University, we immediately started thinking about how to show I was the best candidate for the school,” Marynee remembers.

“Steppingstone didn’t doubt for a second that I could thrive at the country’s most competitive colleges. They wanted to see me succeed and encouraged me to push myself.”

Now halfway through her college career at Tufts, Marynee is spending her junior year studying abroad in Accra, Ghana, and Madrid, Spain. As a double major in international relations and economics with a minor in Africana studies, Marynee looks forward to living in one of the fastest growing economies, perfecting her Spanish, and exploring the world.

Posted 1/14/2015