Samantha Luna ’24

Legal Outreach, Long Island City, NY

This summer, I worked as a college access intern at Legal Outreach (LO), a nonprofit organization that serves first-generation, low-income students entering high school in New York City. Using several programs with law-based curriculums, LO helps its students apply to competitive colleges and succeed after college. My role was under LO’s core academic program, College Bound: a four-year, intensive skill-development and support program designed to strengthen skills necessary for the rigors of college.

Samantha Luna with LO Summer 22 team at Hampshire College.I am a Legal Outreach graduate from the Class of 2020, and I often tell others that I would never have learned about excellent liberal arts schools like Williams if it wasn’t for this organization. Along with my own desires for a better life for myself and my family, I attribute much of my success to my involvement in LO. Having a community like this as someone who was the first in my family to attend college meant so much to me, and I will always be grateful for their support. I knew I wanted to return to LO someday to give back. I was glad when this opportunity appeared in January, especially since I discovered my interest in nonprofit and mentorship work last summer.

I worked with an amazing team of four other interns to mentor the 45 rising seniors in the program. During the first week, I gave a 30-minute presentation on how to effectively research colleges and answering questions on finding the “right-fit” school. Our team recognized that many of our challenges would come from the fact that this group of students completed most of high school remotely. We brainstormed ways to maintain engagement before and during the program: we set up successful mini raffles, lunches and an award ceremony at the end of the program to incentivize and reward students for completing good work on time. Each intern was assigned six to eight students. We reviewed those students’ personal statement drafts and supplemental essays (21 of them, to be exact). I had eight wonderful students in my cohort who I am incredibly proud of, and I cannot wait to see where they go. My absolute favorite moments with them were when I witnessed their “Aha!” moments as they came up with great ideas for their personal statements. It was very fulfilling to get to know them and watch them grow, confirming that mentoring students is something I could see myself doing after Williams.

When I was a LO student, I never fully understood how much work goes into running an organization like this. However, having worked as an employee, I learned so much about nonprofit administration, community building, effective coaching and how to efficiently work on big projects with a small team. I feel very lucky to have been a part of these students’ college journey, and I look forward to staying connected with them and Legal Outreach. Overall, I thank my LO team, the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Class of 1972 for making this fantastic experience possible and supporting me in helping these students succeed.