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Tiffany Smith, Current Student

Tiffany Smith

Tiffany Smith - Current Student

I was a junior at Washington High School when I got "the letter." I had no idea what it meant exactly and certainly didn't realize the impact it would have on my life.

It was a typical day. I had just come home from school when I opened the invitation letter that said I had been selected to be a part of the DREAM Program. I don't remember feeling anything in particular - just a slight curiosity and the thought of "I wonder what this means?" All I knew at that time was that DREAM was something for athletes at my school. I didn't yet realize what it all meant or that it was even affiliated with Walsh University. I couldn't yet see the kind of impact it would have on my future college choice. My parents were excited and told me "you don't shoot down an opportunity like this." So I decided to check it out.

The DREAM Program stands for Developing Resources for Education and Athletics in Massillon. It is a collaborative program between Massillon's Washington High School and partners like Walsh University. The goal is to raise the percentage of Massillon students who go on to higher education. For me, going to college after high school was something always in my mind. I think from a young age I wanted to be a veterinarian and somewhere along the way I decided I would go to Ohio State. But through the DREAM Program, I met Janet Howard and other representatives from Walsh and I began to think about applying to other schools besides Ohio State.

It is funny how when I first started the program my junior year, only a handful of my classmates knew about it. But as we got closer to graduation, it became this big thing. Like a lot of my friends, I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn't realize all it took to get there. As I listened to my friends and classmates talk about how they were stressing over applications and the paper work, I started to realize all the benefits that came with being in the program. Through DREAM, we had help with our applications and financial aid forms and we got advice and feedback on the entire process from people who were actually in higher education. Through Walsh's Center for College Readiness, a part of DREAM, we were able to attend real college classes, walk around local campuses and we got to talk to college students and faculty members. It all made college seem more attainable and it really took a lot of the stress out of the application process.

Along the way, I made one of the best decisions in my life, to come to Walsh. Having that connection with Janet Howard and the people I met through the DREAM Program has definitely helped me to remain focused on my goals. And here I am now, a sophomore at Walsh and pursuing my own dream to be a veterinarian. It all started with that letter.