Student runs national nonprofit to help high schoolers apply to college

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mission Elevation

Last year, one New York University freshman began a nationwide nonprofit to help lower-income high school students with college applications, and now she will bring it to UT.

Hubbul Rizvi’s nonprofit was implemented at 13 universities and helped over 150 students get into college last year. Mission Elevation connects over 70 mentors from the nation’s top universities with high school students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to edit their essays and assist in the application process for free. Rizvi recently transferred to UT from NYU and brought the initiative with her to the 40 Acres by recruiting mentors at UT.

In the first few months, Rizvi, now a government sophomore, said, her mentors were able to help students get acceptance letters from schools including Harvard University, Northwestern University, University of California at Berkeley and UT-Austin.

“I think it’s very important to have equal access of education for everybody, even though they may be from low-income areas,” Rizvi said. “It’s really very hard to get access to education or college education because not a lot of people have the resources to get into a college to begin with.”

Rizvi’s own experiences with applying to colleges inspired her to start up the nonprofit as a freshman at NYU. Rizvi said applying to colleges was difficult for her because she did not have anyone to help her with her applications, and getting essays edited often cost around $100 per session.

With parents who had not gone to an American college and were not knowledgeable about the college application process, Rizvi was on her own.

“I didn’t have any resources,” Rizvi said. “I just had to do it by myself.”

Government junior Anne Crisp is one of the few existing UT mentors. She said the nonprofit is beneficial for students because they will be using their position to help others achieve their goals.

“A lot of times students at UT are privileged and we do have a lot of opportunities that are afforded to us, but that’s not open to everyone,” Crisp said. “It’s a really great opportunity to reflect back on your life and what you’ve been afforded while also giving back.”

Rizvi contacted students from the nation’s top schools — including Brown University, Columbia University and Stanford University — to get involved.

Despite being a busy college student, Rizvi runs the whole show. She regularly reaches out to schools in lower-income districts and connects high school students who need help with mentors online.

Rizvi’s website is not currently up and running because she is in the process of reestablishing it and gathering UT mentors, but she said she will continue the work for the rest of her time at UT.

Finance sophomore Leila Cortez comes from a high school near Corpus Christi, where she said the majority of students come from low-income families and had parents who were migrant workers and had not gone to college.

Cortez’s school had a free college application preparatory program for seniors, and she said aid with her essay was helpful in applying to UT.

“I had no clue what I was getting into,” Cortez said. “We didn’t really have a lot of people to talk to because we didn’t know someone who had gone to college. It’s something that I know I was really grateful to have.”