The Summer Search application process includes a rigorous, multi-step interview and many students find it challenging. This makes acceptance week that much more joyous. Beginning the Summer Search journey can mean the start of a fresh, new chapter with unlimited possibilities.
Summer Search mentorship isn't just about succeeding in school, it's about succeeding in life. Our trained mentors guide students through every phase of their development from adolescence to adulthood. It's not a program; it's a partnership.
An important part of this 1:1 mentorship relationship is being there for students during tough life events. One alumnus, Niles, recalls a tough experience like this...
"Life became a constant race to try and catch the future, while running away from my past — a race to help my mom get better and brother grow up, a race to stay on top of both household bills and schoolwork, and a race that left little time to deal with my own trauma. The only breaks came when Summer Search literally took me out of my environment, both physically on summer trips and mentally through weekly mentoring."
Niles overcame his obstacles to become a loving father, entrepreneur, and trailblazing Summer Search Alumni leader.
Summer Experience #1
Summer Experiences can be life-changing. They push Summer Searchers outside of their comfort zones within a supportive environment.
Kamora Chapman attended a Summer Experience and it changed the way she saw the world, and more importantly, how she saw herself.
"I used to never feel compelled to communicate or connect. In fact, I ran from it. I didn't like sharing things about myself. It scared me. When I leaned on others in the past, I was disappointed. But here, I didn't have all that baggage from home. I felt like I could be anybody that I chose to be. In the mirror of the wilderness, love found me..."
Starting when Ren was only six years old, he unexpectedly lost his hearing, leading to confusion and feeling isolated from other kids his age.
“I didn’t exactly know why I couldn’t ‘hear’ anymore,” he explained. “I went to a hearing elementary school where I was always bullied for being deaf. I always used to think that I didn’t belong anywhere.”
Despite these challenges, Ren was determined not to let his circumstances slow him down.
As he got older, Ren also began to question his gender identity. “I always felt like I didn’t belong in the stereotype of being identified as the binary sex I was born as. It was always uncomfortable to be asked a question of whether I was a boy or a girl. For every time I was asked that question, I never felt like I fit in either category.”
“Honestly before I had Regina as my mentor, I had a lot of self-doubt about who I am, and actually owning the fact that I am me… but then also having trouble reaching out to people I can trust about the issues that I have.”
Ren found himself confiding in her and sharing some of the deep emotional issues he had kept inside for years. In gaining Ren’s trust, Regina helped him break down the defensive walls he had put up.
“Trusting Regina made me feel like I can change the world. It made me realize that I needed people who have my back as much as I have theirs. Regina is part of my chosen family, one of the people that I can turn to.”
Alumni, Joam Marmolejos, discusses the devastation he felt when he discovered that he was denied from every college he applied to except for one. He describes seeking support from his mentor and the extended Summer Search family.
"She listened and reassured me that everything was going to be OK because that's what Summer Search does. They help us think beyond what seems feasible at the moment. Summer Search was there to help me overcome adversity in many ways. At times, they believed in me more than I believed in myself.
Summer Experience #2
Summer Experiences aren't a walk in the park. They're tough, outdoor wilderness adventures that often push our students to new heights. Listen as Elebetel Assefa describes her harrowing experience alone in the woods. She finds her way back and relishes in the friendship, support, and growth opportunities that define Summer Experiences.
"Summer Search is real. It’s transformative. It’s deep, uncomfortable, and unconditional. It helps transform lives and imagine new possibilities for yourself, for those around you, to tap into your internal strengths and achieve incredible things. That is what Summer Search did for me and what it continues to do for hundreds of students."
Summer Search isn't just a high school mentorship program, we're a lifelong partnership. Watch as alum, Nathaly Arriola, describes how expansive the impact of having mentorship and support for 7+ integral years of your life can be.
In 2020, Students faced one of the most challenging obstacles in American History - entering a job market reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic. Summer Search's holistic approach to mentorship and support means we're there for our students through every hardship. Watch as our leadership, staff, mentors, and partners join together to create resources for students coping with trying times:
Financial Aid Mentorship
Summer Searches finish college with $20,000 less debt than the average college student who borrows money for college. These results can be attributed to the resourcefulness of our students and the focused financial aid mentorship provided by our passionate post-secondary mentors.
Summer Searcher, Rasmee, was able to attend her dream school (Harvard) due to savvy financial planning with the help of her mentor.
"My Summer Search mentors allowed me to process my thoughts as I talked through my decisions with someone who was unbiased. This was extremely helpful, especially because I was stuck at home and only able to talk to my family (who were quite biased haha). My mentors also helped me throughout the process of evaluating financial aid and applying for it, which made Harvard more affordable and contributed to my decision to enroll there."
- With love and gratitude, Rasmee
Many Summer Searchers find themselves lost, confused, and at a major disadvantage when it comes to career exploration and job searches. Most graduates rely on their family/professional networks, something most first-generation students don't have the luxury of. Eduardo Fernandez, a Summer Search Alumnus, speaks to his experience feeling lost after graduation.
"I learned that for a first-generation graduate like me, a college diploma isn't an automatic entry into the workforce. I was at a disadvantage without the network most of my fellow grads had. I didn't know how to navigate the professional world as a first-generation white-collar worker. My parents couldn't teach me this."
We've now expanded our College/Post-Secondary mentorship program so students like Eduardo will be supported through mentorship, resources, and internship opportunities from our nationwide Summer Search network.
Career Plan Mentorship
Recent grad and Seattle alumna, Ehler Tha Win, cares deeply about her community. Through solid career planning and working with her mentor, she found a great job after graduating from the University of Washington. She's currently working at Talitha Consults, an equity-focused community planning organization.
She's a leader who challenges her community to "stay hopeful and actively look for ways to advocate for the greater community if they have the capacity to do so."
The work of creating an inclusive world with opportunities for all doesn't end at graduation. Our fearless alumni leaders are taking the values they've developed at Summer Search to trailblaze new paths at work, in board rooms, and at home.
Watch as impressive Alumnus and new Wall Street employee, Riana Shah, shares her passion for expanding the table wherever she goes.
Success of Your Own
Success isn't defined by Summer search leaders. It isn't even defined by parents, teachers, or mentors. Success is defined by our students. We believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Wade Cherry is an inspiring Summer Searcher. His definition of success means traveling back to his home country, Haiti, with a determined vision to build a shelter for local children and families in need. Watch more about his dream: