If anyone can understand the benefit of a college readiness program like OMA&D’s Educational Talent Search (ETS), it’s Alyssa Moore. The 2012 UW graduate was involved in the program for 10 years, first as a recipient of its services and then as a work study employee who helped others like herself prepare for higher education.
Moore, who grew up in Mount Vernon, Wash., was one of five kids from a low-income, biracial family. “My parents both worked, but we always seemed to struggle financially,” she said. “I remember feeling embarrassed, but hopeful that things would change for the better.”
When she was in seventh grade, Moore learned about ETS, a grant-funded program housed within OMA&D designed to assist economically and educationally disadvantaged middle and high school students prepare for college. Those affiliated with the program are offered resources to be successful in school, and ultimately apply and enroll in post-secondary education.
During her time in the program, Moore worked with ETS counselor Rob Leatherman and said the program helped her with “absolutely everything.”
“Rob came to my school every week and we met to work on my UW application, admissions essay, my FAFSA and signing up for the SAT and ACT,” Moore added. “I honestly don’t think I would have gotten in to the UW if Talent Search hadn’t helped me.”
When she arrived as a student on campus, Moore needed to find a work study job to fulfill the requirements of her financial aid package. An opportunity presented itself in the ETS office and she was hired as an office assistant.
“I did a lot of clerical things,” Moore said. “But I also helped give campus tours and occasionally told my ‘story’ to high school ETS students. It was rewarding to help them prepare for college. I loved to give them advice and share my experience. I liked to be real with them and let them know that I was once in their shoes. Hopefully they appreciated that.”
Moore graduated from the UW in June with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She also minored in Spanish. She now lives in Palm Desert, Calif., and is hoping to eventually find work as a publicist in the entertainment industry.
“I think being involved in ETS taught me that there are no limits to what you can do,” Moore said. “Your goals might be difficult to achieve, and you might have a disadvantage in some way, shape or form, but if you work at it, you can do whatever you want to do. I know working in the entertainment industry is a lofty goal, but ETS has taught me that working hard and being motivated can take you anywhere.”