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Leadership Spotlight: Katie Bui

I joined Dream Project because I wanted to make a difference in communities similar to the one I grew up in. Being a former mentee at Cleveland High School and growing up in South Seattle had a huge influence on my involvement in Dream Project. Living in South Seattle, you are constantly discriminated against, negatively stereotyped and at a disadvantage compared to others. It honestly is not a good feeling. You are always second guessing your dreams and abilities, which no student should ever have to do.

For many of us coming from low-income and first-generation communities, going to college is a privilege. Understanding the hardships and inequities students of color experience, I wanted to be able to support them in some way. Dream Project gave me that opportunity. When I was a mentee, I didn’t have any resources to get myself to college or even believe I could get there. My mentor gave me endless amounts of support and genuine care that changed my life. I realized the great value mentorship can have in a student’s life. This just pushed me to join Dream Project once I got to the UW.

Now, a year later I am a High School Lead (HSL) at Cleveland High School. I love it so much that I’m returning for another year. My experience as an HSL has most definitely not been easy—but without a doubt, it’s been worth it. I get to collaborate with amazing leaders and bring awareness to social justice issues many do not recognize. The most rewarding thing, and my favorite, is when I get to see mentees and mentors build meaningful friendships with each other.

The past three years I have been able to support inspirational students, giving them the fair chances they deserve. I’ve made meaningful impacts in different communities. But most importantly I get to remind students that their dreams matter, big or small. Giving back in ways like these has made my college experience that much more valuable. In Dream Project you will make a difference in a student’s life, but they will make an even bigger one in yours. The feeling you get through mentoring is something I still can’t get enough of and is the biggest reason I haven’t left.