From college orientation to the late-night texts: This is why we exist

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I’ve attended many college orientations, both with my own kids and with Project Legacy kids. Orientations at private colleges and the University of Minnesota are typically filled with parents. It’s been the exception to attend and see a student there without a parent.

Earlier this month, I attended an orientation at RCTC with a young student at Project Legacy. I was the only parent in the room with approximately 60 young students.

I’ve been thinking about the feelings so many college students share with me. Whether they’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, they all experience excitement, anxiety, fear and uncertainty. I think about how hard this part of the journey has been for my own children, and then I think about the Project Legacy youth, many who don’t have family members supportive of their goals of having a college education and degree.

After the program, I received a text from a young woman who said, “I just heard about Project Legacy and I’d like to join.”

When I asked why, she said simply: “I’m a first generation college student and my mom doesn’t speak much English or understand how to help me. I’m really scared and I can’t do this alone. I graduated from JM and my friends told me about Project Legacy.”

Within three hours, two other girls, both friends of the first, called and texted me, looking for support, a safe space and guidance surrounding this challenging time in a young person’s life.  

Then, a few days later, we took a group of young girls from Project Legacy to the Science Museum to see the National Parks film at the Omni theatre and to visit the Race exhibit and shared a meal together. On the way back, the girls talked about which National Park they wanted to visit. They asked if we could have study groups to help them in school. They asked if we could have Circle every Sunday instead of just every other Sunday.

With support, our young people dream about all the opportunities that lie ahead for them. And that hope is infectious.

After I got back home that night, I turned out the lights and was ready for bed, only to receive another text: “Will you help me with my drug problem? I want help.”  How brave to send that text asking for help.

This is why Project Legacy exists. To be on the receiving end of the pleas for help, whether from the freshman in high school, first generation college student, or the young teen who is struggling with substance abuse.

They are why we’re here.

Karen Edmonds