Last year, Coral Gables Senior High had one of its most successful years regarding financial aid and college acceptances. Thanks to the College Assistance Program (CAP) adviser, Mrs. Stack, and a very diligent senior class, Coral Gables was able to send many of its students to a four-year college or university. Mrs. Stack is responsible for promoting an environment that encourages achievement and for making sure that everyone who wants to go to college gets the opportunity. For those seniors and juniors who do not currently know Mrs. Stack, you will surely become very acquainted with her over the next year.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Mrs. Stack migrated to the United States for educational purposes. After graduating from Wellesley College and traveling across the globe, she received a law degree from the University of Miami. Over the next twenty years, she practiced law not as a litigator, but in the legal community. At forty-five she left her law career to work with high school students.
“My favorite part is the kids. I love all of the different personalities. I love the challenges, the youth, the excitement, and a little bit of the innocence. I have huge dreams for this class; I want to get as many kids as I can into college, preferably into a four-year school. I understand that there are financial considerations, and many kids cannot afford four years at a college or university. Nevertheless, I like to promote a college-going culture so that our high school maintains its reputation for pushing our kids to achieve acceptance into a four-year school,” Mrs. Stack said.
A significant amount of students from the 2014 graduating class were admitted to prestigious universities both in and out of state. Some attended Stanford, Duke, and Harvard, while others decided to study internationally. About fifty percent of the class signed to a community college and many were accepted to local schools such as FIU and UM.
These students worked hard not only to get into the next-level schools, but also for the scholarships. Philip Akin broke the school record last year when the sum of all of his financial aid totaled more than $700,000. Javier Fernandez received the Bill Gates Scholarship and will be attending the University of California. Other students did not get that many scholarships, but received enough aid to fulfill their needs.
One recent graduate, Cole Scanlon, will be attending Harvard University at no cost. He was the recipient of several large, national scholarships such as the Coca Cola scholarship, the Ronald Reagan Scholarship, and the Jack Kent Scholarship.
“My college application process was introspective, long, and tiring. In doing applications, I often had to reflect on what my values are, what I want to do in the future, and which experiences have shaped who I am. I started applications in August and intermittently worked on them until January. Truly, I took a “shotgun” approach in regards to college and scholarships. I applied to 13 colleges and over 50 scholarships. I just kept thinking about how I am improving my chances by applying to many colleges and scholarships. I reused many of my college application essays for scholarships and they seemed to work. Having a collection of quality essays to reuse was advantageous, but only possible because I started my applications early. I met with Mrs. Stack at the end of junior year to show her the list of schools I planned to apply to and asked for advice. She was supporting me the whole time and I kept stopping by her office to tell her my results. She was upfront about my prospects, which is absolutely necessary when applying to colleges,” Scanlon said.
Many students struggle with the college application process; it is a long, drawn out, overwhelming period for high school seniors. Within a year, you are forced to make choices that will help determine your future. That is where Mrs. Stack comes in. In addition to the research you’ve already done, she can help you pick out colleges, find scholarships and grants, and assist with anything else you might need to ensure a successful college experience.
Mrs. Stack will be visiting senior classes for the next few weeks, but after that she will have an open door policy. Anybody with questions or concerns can see her then. Seniors need to thoroughly read the packets they receive and are highly encouraged to check her updates every day.