Andres Olarte

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College Preparatory Program '11 | University of Hartford '15 | Financial Analyst, FLDP, AETNA

“NJ SEEDS is like a family. It is a place where kids and young adults make their dreams a reality. It opens doors to a better life, not only for the student, but also for the student’s family. It confirms to family members that their sacrifices and hard work do pay off.”

Andres Olarte applied to New Jersey SEEDS’ College Preparatory Program (CPP) while enrolled in high school at the Academies at Englewood. As a member of the very first CPP class, there was some uncertainty. “There were a lot of unknowns being part of the first class and what would happen next. It taught us that in life, you need to be open to change and you need to be adaptable. You can’t stay in the same spot because the road is blocked. You have to find another way, and we always did.”

That lesson inspired Andres to become a leader. “Being part of the first class required us to step up to the plate. When the second class joined CPP, we showed them the ropes and how everything worked. We used our leadership skills to help us express what we needed to succeed and how we could help students who came after us.”

And the experiences Andres had in the College Preparatory Program helped him learn about the college application and admissions processes, and what to expect in future coursework. “SEEDS was mind-blowing. The field trips, group projects, and college visits were amazing. I did not think I was going to explore so many universities at the beginning of high school. I did not imagine I would spend three weeks at Hobart and William Smith Colleges for three summers in a row, enhancing my literature, writing and mathematical skills.” 

These skills prepared Andres for the University of Hartford, and he has made a point to keep in touch with the organization that helped set him up on the path of success. “I have attended alumni events, CPP reunions, and kept in touch with my fellow CPP graduates. Unfortunately, moving 2,000 miles away after college became more of an obstacle to physically being present, but this does not separate NJ SEEDS from my heart. New Jersey SEEDS is a second home.”