At Moxie College Counseling, we have the opportunity to work with many gifted students — all with unique stories to tell. This month, we’re going to start highlighting some of these special young people, while providing insight into what we can do to help students navigate the college admission process.

Introducing Gilderson Vasquez

Gilderson Vasquez is no ordinary human being. The son of Latino immigrants, he is also no stranger to adversity. The community where he lives is riddled by gun violence and crime — to the point that he and his family have had to hide inside their apartment to escape bullets on more than one occasion. That is enough to discourage many people, but it only motivates Gilderson. His parents came to this country to ensure that he and his sister get a good education, and hope for a better future. Gilderson takes that seriously. He is determined to excel in academics and music so that he can make a better life for himself and his family.

A Love for Music

When he was just 11 years old, Gilderson picked up a guitar for the first time and started teaching himself how to play. At the age of 14, he auditioned and was accepted to the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he has trained as a classical guitarist, while maintaining a rigorous academic schedule. It was always Gilderson’s dream to attend a college where he could study business and continue to pursue his passion for music. But since no one in his family had attended college before, he had no knowledge of the application process, or anyone to help him.

Starting His College Admissions Journey

Gilderson heard about Moxie College Counseling through one of his sister’s mentors. He learned what services were offered and knew right away that we could help him navigate the sometimes-crazy world of college applications. He was introduced to Jeff Knox, who became his counselor.  He was also assigned an essay specialist to help guide him through writing his personal statement. “Jeff helped me a lot with all the resources he had. He would break down things so that it wasn’t so overwhelming. Communication with him was so easy — it was easy to schedule meetings, he responded quickly, and he answered all my questions. Not only did he help me with my college applications, but he helped me choose classes for high school and select the people I’d get to write my letters of recommendation. Without Moxie, the process would have been so hard.”

Choosing a College

Like most students, Gilderson had his own ideas when it came to applying to college. He wanted to attend a school with a strong music program as well as a reputable business school. Location, community and cost were also factors to consider. He wanted to stay relatively close to his family, so most of the schools he was considering were in the DMV area. He was looking for a school with a strong student community. And he knew he’d need financial assistance to attend college at all, so that was a huge consideration. After meeting with Jeff, he compiled a list of preferred schools, and ranked each. He ended up applying to 15 of colleges. He was accepted to nine. Jeff helped him prepare his FAFSA application for financial aid, so he was offered assistance at many them. He chose to attend one of his top choices, American University, where he was offered a full ride scholarship.

Advice for Rising High School Seniors

When asked what advice he’d give to rising high school seniors looking to attend college, Gilderson had three suggestions:

  1. Start early. This is important since there are so many steps to the application process. Most students apply to multiple schools, and there are different requirements and deadlines that must be met for each. Getting an early start is imperative to managing stress and making sure you’re giving colleges the best information you have. At Moxie, we recommend that students start in the summer before their senior year – working with college counselors and essay specialists, as well as honing resumes and interviewing skills.
  2. Ask lots of questions. As Gilderson puts it, “There are no stupid questions. Do not be afraid to ask, or you’ll be unsure and less confident about what you’re doing.”
  3. Stay organized. Time management is key, as is keeping good records. CollegePlannerPro, the system Moxie uses to help counselors and students manage their time and resources, was very helpful for Gilderson: “I love CollegePlannerPro. It helped me keep things organized and gave me a way to communicate with my counselor.”

Congratulations to Gilderson on a job well done!

If you have any questions about our services at Moxie College Counseling, please contact us.