RASHEEDAH WASHINGTON CLAYTON
Concord-Carlisle High School
Class of 1996
I was raised in Boston and attended Concord-Carlisle High School through the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities (METCO) program. I enjoyed many of my classes, however one stood out Mr. Mancini’s history class, in which I read a biography of Wu Zetian, the only woman ever to rule as empress in ancient China. Through this class, I discovered my interest in cultural history.
I had a challenging though extremely rewarding afterschool job in Boston, peer counselor teenagers about HIV/AIDS prevention. It was a challenge for me to get involved in extracurricular activities at the High School, but I volunteered during my free periods in the administrative offices with Ms. Hammer, the school secretary. This helped me form strong, positive relationships with a number of the adults at the school.
The first time I met with my guidance counselor, Ms. Chambers, to talk about college, she asked me where I wanted to apply. At the time, going to college wasn’t a priority – my goal was just to graduate from Concord-Carlisle High School! Ms. Chambers continued to meet with me, slowly but surely she helped me think about continuing my education beyond high school. We talked about community college as an option then we moved on to other kinds of schools; soon enough college was on my radar. Ms. Chambers was easy to talk to, this made it easier for me to be open about considering college.
Another adult at Concord-Carlisle High School who bore a lot of influence over me was Maura Roberts, an English teacher who has since passed away. Unlike many Boston students who start attending Concord in kindergarten, I began high school in the tenth grade. I struggled with the logistics of the commute, managing my time and friendships. I became frustrated at times and questioned why my mother considered it so important for me to travel so far to go to school. Ms. Roberts and METCO Director Mrs. Dinnall helped me understand the importance of perseverance through challenging situations.
My plan was to study nursing. As far as making a decision about where to go to college, once Ms. Chambers had convinced me to take the decision seriously, I looked at some brochures and thought about different possibilities. I wanted to stay close to home. My friend Scott Mattison often wore a Quinnipiac College hat because his brother attended Quinnipiac College (which is now Quinnipiac University), and I learned that they had a good nursing program. I found out Scott and his dad were planning to go to an admissions open house there, and I asked if I could go along with them. We visited the school, and I was sold. It had a strong nursing program and a pretty campus and was located just two and a half hours from Boston, in Hamden, Connecticut. That all sounded good to me, and I was happy to be accepted there.
However, it became clear to me with my first college internship, which was in the orthopedic department at New Britain Hospital, that nursing was not a good fit for me. Moreover, I was struggling with my math and science classes. So I changed my major to business administration, with goal to remain focus on healthcare. Business turned out to be a much better fit for me, and the rest of my college education went quite well.
In the summers during college, I would go home to Boston and work at Northeastern University, doing data entry in the admissions department. After graduation, I had an interview with the Connecticut public health system, still thinking I wanted to go into health care administration, but the associate director of admissions at Northeastern asked me whether I’d ever thought about doing college admissions recruitment. I admitted I hadn’t given it much thought. I did enjoy speaking with people about college because I was the first to attend in my family, the director encouraged me to apply for full-time work at Northeastern. I was offered a job as an admissions counselor, and it was a very good fit for me. I stayed in that role for several years.
I now serve as the Director of the METCO program for Natick Public Schools. This was a major game-changer for me as far as my goals in life. It allowed me to work with students, their parents, and the faculty and staff in Natick Public Schools, in a way it brought together all my previous experiences: working as a peer counselor for HIV/AIDS prevention in Boston; volunteering in the administrative offices at Concord-Carlisle High School; and working in the admissions department at Northeastern. I loved the job immediately. I have the pleasure of building relationships with Boston and Natick students. It provides me the opportunity to have the same kind of positive impact on them that the teachers and counselors at Concord-Carlisle High School had on me.
I was tremendously grateful to receive money from The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle. College is expensive, even in small ways you don’t think about when you consider tuition costs and fees. A professor will say, “There’s an information packet you’ll need to pick up at the copy center,” and when get it, the cost is thirty and forty dollars. The money from The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle helped with expenses not listed on the tuition bill.
I still maintain contact with many of my mentors and friends at Concord-Carlisle High School. I attribute a great deal of my personal growth to my experience there and all that it enabled me to do. The immediately previous METCO Director at Concord-Carlisle High School is a friend, and he invited me to speak to the students about leadership and the college application process. I am always happy to do whatever I can to help out and to give back to the school, the METCO program, and The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle program, because all of those components were instrumental in making me the person I became as an adult.