Faija, a current high school senior, would call herself “an original” Project Rousseau student and has maintained a close relationship with Andrew over the course of high school while developing new relationships with other staff members as the organization grew. Faija and her family immigrated from Bangladesh to the Bronx at the age of 9 and she joined Project Rousseau during middle school.
Recently, Faija was accepted to Columbia University where her sister is a student. Columbia has been Faija’s dream school for a long time, as she has grown up visiting the campus with Project Rousseau, and then later exploring the neighborhood with her sister.
The application process was strenuous, but Faija takes pride in her determination and “was at the office every day working [to complete the application on time].” Faija describes the doubt she felt before opening the portal to view her acceptance. She says, “I knew the statistics of who gets in and I don’t have connections to Columbia,”.
Faija opened her decision letter with her sister, Tahiya, on campus: “I had to decide if I was going to visit her at Columbia and cry about Columbia at Columbia or cry at home.”. When Tahiya relayed the good news to Faija, “[Faija] didn’t believe her.” “I was in tears because it has been my dream school since freshman year,” Faija says of the experience. She “was shaky in the moment,” and, “couldn’t believe that [she] could do something like this.” For Faija, she had made not only her dream come true, but her parents’ dream as well.
Looking back, Faija spoke of the SAT process as stressful, but is grateful for her opportunity to participate in Project Rousseau’s SAT Bootcamp in Denmark. With the help of the Project Rousseau team, Faija also set due dates for herself and as well as a timeline to finish her personal statement. Faija, unlike her friends, felt like she “had a schedule to stick to” which motivated her.
Faija is appreciative of her Project Rousseau family and says, “Project Rousseau is always there for me, not only in terms of college or SATs, but they are always there to listen to me and guide me and tell me what to do. Project Rousseau is not only about academics but personal issues too.” She offers her advice to college applicants and is adamant that it is important to “start studying for the SAT early,” and to, “use your Project Rousseau resources if you are stuck!” Faija reflects on her application process as a test in discipline and perseverance, and is excited to be attending Columbia next fall!