Gallo Diba ’24

KenSAP, Montclair, NJ

As long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to work in an environment that makes sense to me personally. An environment where I feel like I am making a difference, a positive difference. In a world that is highly individualistic and cares little for the underprivileged people in society, it’s very easy to forget that it is not OK to act like that. And honestly speaking, Williams is a perfect example of such an environment. Even though I grew up in a low-income household, I realize now that I’m at Williams that I am also privileged. I quickly realized that at the most basic level, as cliché as it sounds, change starts with yourself. Change starts with you doing something as close to what you envision the world should be like.

Starting college in a pandemic only highlighted that any difficulty has unequal effects on people depending on their socio-economic status. Some people have their families close, and others have the means to go home when they want to. This was not true for me. I missed home a lot. For these reasons, working in a field I care about and close to my family and friends was very rewarding for me, personally and professionally.

Over the summer I worked with a nonprofit organization called KenSAP, which offers college application support to underprivileged, overachieving students. My work focused on helping with SAT preparation and editing common app essays. Since all of the students grew up in Kenya and were applying to U.S. colleges, I also helped with introducing them to American culture.

One thing I realized quite early working with the students was that they became overwhelmed with large amounts of new material being thrown at them, mostly because the things were new to them. Since they had only three months to prepare for the SAT before their college applications, I introduced new ways of delivering the same results. For example, for the cultural introductions, I decided to use films. This was highly effective because students loved them. Even better, the films were in the evenings after classes.

As someone who is not very sure about my career plans yet, I know very well the experience I had working with people will go a long way in helping me in whatever career I choose to work in. Furthermore, I feel very fulfilled and re-energized to continue with school this fall.

I am deeply grateful to the Fox Family for giving me the opportunity to work in a field I care deeply about and at an organization close to my family.