For Jaylin Collins, the past year has entailed a lot of adapting and adjusting as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about months of uncertainties and changes, especially with school.
“I graduated from high school, but unfortunately I didn’t really have a graduation, and it was a big transition from classes being in person to being online,” she says.
Starting her higher education experience fully remotely at Howard Community College proved to be a largely smooth transition, however. Thanks to the intensive mentorship, financial scholarships, resources, and guidance provided through the Silas Craft Collegians Program, Collins has felt well-supported in launching her college career successfully.
“I feel like Silas Craft will help me survive,” she says. “Already, the financial assistance and tips I’ve learned have been invaluable to my college experience. I’ll be able to apply everything I learn from this program now and throughout college. Even long after I graduate from HCC, I know I’ll still be able to contact my Silas Craft Collegians mentors, staff, and fellow students if I’m having a problem.”
Learning new study habits, ways to tackle difficult assignments and papers, and tips for setting and tracking goals has been especially useful, according to Collins. When she found herself facing lengthy writing assignments for the first time, Collins felt unsure about how to get started. But with help from Silas Craft program staff, she learned how to break down the assignment into manageable chunks and develop a plan to get the job done.
The accessibility and responsiveness of the program’s staff make all the difference, Collins says.
“With classes being online, it’s really different. It’s not where I can turn to a classmate and ask for help,” she says. “If I’m having a problem, I would have to find an email, make sure the email is correct, and hope that someone responds in enough time so I can finish my work.”
But with Silas Craft Collegians, “I have a person I can reach and get a text message back instantly—or schedule a Zoom meeting with quickly.” Without the program, “I’d probably be very stuck and frustrated without this program because I would’ve started college with just me. I wouldn’t know who to turn to or who to contact if I’m having trouble with things.”
While Collins lives in Baltimore County, she was eager to attend HCC and join the Silas Craft Collegians after hearing about it from her relatives and family friends involved in the program.
The most appealing part was the “sense of unity and family that the program offered,” she says. “When I first started college, I was really nervous and I felt like, ‘Wow, I have to do all this on my own. I don’t know who I’m going to talk to.’ But with Silas Craft, you’re not alone in anything that you do.”
In the future, Collins hopes to finish her associate degree at HCC and transition to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree and eventually a Ph.D., with the goal of becoming a psychologist. “It’s going to take some time, but I am up for it, because I actually enjoy school,” she says.
With the challenges of juggling online learning, jobs, and the pandemic, Collins looks forward to meeting her fellow collegians in person, and she is grateful for the supportive community that the program has offered. “We need that especially in the times we’re in now,” she says. “So I really do appreciate all the help.”