Alumnus helps high school students get computers, apply to college
Staying in high school was a feat in and of itself. Going to college? Not even a consideration.
But now Fort Worth Polytechnic High School students are applying to college at record numbers with the help of alumnus Geovanny Bonilla and Phi Kappa Sigma.
Bonilla, a 2011 graduate, works full time at Polytechnic as an adviser with the TCU chapter of Advise TX, a program that assigns recent graduates to low-income high schools to encourage and to facilitate the pursuit for higher education.
When Bonilla arrived at the school located in northeast Fort Worth, he was struck by the community’s humility and kindness, he said. But he also noticed another thing: its limited computer access.
Polytechnic already had the biggest computer lab in the district available for students to aid their college application and search process, said Polytechnic Academic Coordinator Wendy Coleman.
However, many of the computers were broken and the center was crowded, Bonilla said. He wanted more computers for another work area.
“These kids don’t have the resources at home or at school to really seek their dreams,” Bonilla said. “They needed a more secluded area that was a little bit less distracting and a little more efficient.”
Polytechnic could not afford more computers, so Bonilla turned to his fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma, for help during winter break.
“I still have a great relationship with a lot of the guys, so I just told them, ‘Hey, there is a really fantastic opportunity to reach out to the community,’” Bonilla said. “‘It’s good in that you’re serving a low-income community, but you’re also helping an alumni in achieving his goals to help the community as well.’"
When Bonilla proposed his request to Phi Kappa Sigma, president Hunter Hullett said he was eager to participate.
“I thought it was a great idea and a great opportunity to help the community,” Hullett said.
“The computers were not that expensive and I knew it would help kids do stuff in the office.”
Three weeks ago, Phi Kappa Sigma donated two new computers to Polytechnic, which have already made a difference.
“These computers are important because they’re an asset and a tool for students to apply to scholarships, apply for schools and fill out financial aid applications,” Bonilla said.
Coleman said students were applying to more scholarships and colleges on time and that interest had increased, and the numbers agree.
Twenty Polytechnic students applied to the university, according to Bonilla. Eight students have been accepted so far, and six are semi-finalists for the university’s Community Scholars Program.
These are record numbers for Polytechnic in the past 20 to 30 years, he said.
But, Coleman said, the computers were not the only thing behind students’ success; it was Bonilla, too.
“It’s not just the fact that the computer is there, it’s that [Bonilla] is there to walk students through it,” Coleman said. “He’s close enough in age to the students, and he’s so personable and patient that students believe they can go to college because of his influence.”
Bonilla helps students and their parents to understand the college application process, to set up campus visits and to apply for scholarships and federal aid.
He said he looked forward to an event in May he called “Decision Day,” the day students announced where they would go to college and celebrate their success.
“It’s an opportunity to say, ‘this is your time to take the world,’” Bonilla said. “For people in this community, it’s a great accomplishment.”
Advise TX is a new organization with chapters at six Texas universities. Positions are limited to two years to keep advisers young, Bonilla said.
For more information about the next available position and the application process, visit http://advisetx.org/universities/texas-christian-university/.
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