With over 1,000 college applications, 5 Posse Scholars, and nearly 250 college admissions decisions thus far, Worcester students have been working endlessly to cross the finish line before the first of May.  The past few months have consisted of students meeting with their counselors to complete financial aid applications, interviews, and various scholarship applications.

February vacation was no different.  After the Hanover Scholarship event held back in November, the Access Team held its second Scholarship Party event, where students were assisted throughout the Greater Worcester Foundation Scholarship application process.  All afternoon, the resource room was active with students drafting, editing, and adding the final touches to their writing prompts.  In addition to students registering for the tedious online application, there were also many conversations held about different college visits and admission decisions that students have received.

What makes this particular scholarship so unique is that by submitting just one application, each student is considered for all scholarships which he/she is eligible for. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation awards over 350 college scholarships every spring from 130 different scholarship funds.  The foundation, which offers scholarships ranging in size from $300 to $7,000, has awarded close to $300,000 to over 200 students in the Worcester area.

-Written by Bottom Line Senior Access Counselor, Theresa Pickens

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Bottom Line students between mock interview sessions.

Crisp suits, firm handshakes, and smiles abound at the 2016 Bottom Line Go Far Forum events. The annual Go Far Forums, which take place in Boston and Worcester, provide an opportunity for Bottom Line high school seniors and college students to develop their professional skills, explore career paths, and meet regional employers looking to recruit a diverse pool of talented employees.

This month, over 375 Bottom Line students in Massachusetts braved the winter weather to practice their elevator pitches and network with local professionals at the Boston Marriott. UMASS – Boston student, Judnise Guillet, a junior studying communications, arrived eager to meet professionals in marketing and PR. “The State Street networking roundtable discussions,” a new workshop led by State Street employees, “were most valuable for me” said Guillet. “At each table a State Street employee facilitated conversations about networking topics. By the time I was done, I rotated to 4 tables. Those individuals connected me directly to so many resources. I learned how to find internship opportunities, how to be confident walking into an interview, and resume tips. I’ve been to Go Far Forums 3-4 times now since I was a high school senior, and I really appreciated this new element of the event!”

In addition to some of the new workshops presented at the Boston Go Far Forum, volunteers and partnering companies conducted mock interviews, hosted tables in a career fair, and led group discussions on relevant topics.

In Worcester, students posed for professional LinkedIn headshots and attended a career panel, which consisted of HR professionals, recruiters, and Bottom Line alumni. Jim Mack, a recruiter from UMass Medical School and participant on the Worcester Career Panel, observed that students were well prepared and engaged. He said, “What I found amazing is that many of the students who saw me walking to my vehicle outside of the DCU [after the event ended], came up and thanked me again.”

Bottom Line’s Go Far Forum events are a great chance for students to practice the employability skills they have worked so hard to develop throughout college, and to demonstrate to employers, their peers, and themselves that they have what it takes to “get in, graduate, and go far” in life.

-Written by Bottom Line Career Counselor, Cara Press


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Bottom Line student, RongRong, completes her college applications!

When walking around our office you might notice our “I Hit Submit” wall and see an array of dazzling stars decorated with students’ names. The purpose of this wall is to recognize the hard work students have put into their college application process. For the last couple of months, they have been drafting, editing, and revising essays while researching and selecting their preferred schools.

This year, students are able to choose from different colored stars and decorate them to express their individuality as they continue on the journey towards a college degree! Some students celebrate their years of high school by writing their graduation year while others write heartwarming ‘thank yous’ to their Access counselors.

Access Team Manager Aaron Canto says, “It’s always exciting to watch the wall grow throughout the weeks because you see the progress of the counselors and students growing in a tangible way. While it’s a busy season, you can see everyone’s work and the complex process that is applying to college. This is what makes it all so special.”

-Written by Salem Gebrezgi

Name: Jabril Robinson
Position: Career Counselor

Hometown: Greater Boston Area

College Attended: Bridgewater State University (B.A. Psychology); Northeastern University (M.S. College Student Development & Counseling)

Favorite Pastimes/Activities: Running, trying new foods, exploring new career development and diversity-related topics of discussion.

Favorite College Moment: Delivering the undergraduate spring commencement address to thousands of students, families, and faculty upon graduation from BSU.

Best Advice Received About College: The best advice I received was, “Where you go to college doesn’t matter as much as what you do when you get there.” This really speaks to what actionable items one will take on, to leave a positive legacy once you’ve graduated.

What Are Your Campus Meetings Like?
Similar to the other Success Counselors here at Bottom Line, I enjoy engaging with my students on the subject of their academics, career path, financial status, and general life circumstances. As a Career Counselor, the employability part is especially emphasized, in making sure that my students are able to identify, articulate, and develop the skills necessary to pursue their desired career path. Our desired career goals are constantly shaped by those previously mentioned areas so they are all important for my students and I to consider, whether we’re meeting on campus, in the office, over the phone, or another method of communication.

What Is Your Biggest Challenge as a Career Counselor?
There are several challenges as a Career Counselor, and I believe the biggest is articulating the importance of understanding how the “job search” process works. I do my best to have my students see, whether seeking a full time career, a summer internship, or simply a volunteer opportunity, that this should be considered a process, rather than an overnight quick fix. It takes time to develop an understanding of oneself, connect to peers, and identify the right “fit” career-wise, and it’s something that has to be balanced with academic and social demands. If not conducted in a persistent, conscious manner, job searching can be even more challenging than it already is, which can often be a difficult message to convey early on.

What Is the Most Rewarding Aspect of Your Job?
I’m a fan of the destination (i.e. seeing how excited my students are when they acquire the job/internship of their dreams) — who wouldn’t be? However, I view the game of life as more of a marathon than a sprint, so it’s the journey of working with students, helping them gradually discover themselves, connecting with others, and reaching their goals that really makes this job such a valuable experience. It’s always an exciting adventure to form a counseling partnership with a student while working together to help them graduate and go far in a meaningful career. Since we work with such diverse students, no two stories are ever the same. There’s always something new to learn!

-Written by Jabril Robinson, JP Career Team


Name: Elaine Previl

High School: John D O’Bryant

College: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Graduation Year: 2014

Job: Teacher at the New England Center for Children

Favorite Bottom Line Memory: Eating lunch with my Bottom Line counselor, Tory, when he came to visit me at MCLA.

If I could send a care package, I’d fill it with: Gift cards to college bookstores (because books are expensive).

Why I stay involved with Bottom Line: Bottom Line is a great program and the number of students that it serves and helps with the college process is remarkable. I attribute so much of my success throughout college to Bottom Line.

People would be surprised to learn that I used to: Know nothing about research and now research is what my job mainly consists of. I am now applying to graduate schools that are heavily research based.

The best part of being a college graduate is: Being able to finally commit my time and energy to my interests.

The hardest part about being a college graduate is: Missing the friends I would see every day. We all gained great experience in college and now we are all exploring opportunities near and far.

Join me in supporting Bottom Line by: Connecting to current students to let them know about your career experience.

Elaine Previl is a teacher of children with autism at New England Center for Children (NECC) in Southborough, MA. She is about to begin her second year after spending a semester interning with the school and living on its campus during her senior year of college.

Elaine joined Bottom Line in her senior year of high school while attending the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science in Boston. With the help of Bottom Line, she applied to college and decided to attend Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, MA. While in school, Elaine majored in Psychology and was involved in campus life. With support from Bottom Line and career services at MCLA, Elaine sought out an opportunity to spend a semester away, interning at NECC during her senior year. After the amazing experience, she decided to apply for a full-time opportunity after graduation and is now looking into graduate schools to further her education.

Written by Kira Terrill, Worcester Career Team Manager 

Bottom Line – Chicago’s Margy Brill shares her perspective on integrating data into student counseling.


When you think about technology in the context of college access and persistence, a new platform or an app may come to mind. At Bottom Line, we see technology as less of a stand-alone solution and more of a tool that facilitates collecting and analyzing data to help low income, first generation students get into college, graduate from college, and go far in life. Harnessing technology to create carefully monitored data-driven outcomes is central to our DEAL curriculum for college persistence. As a result, it was an enormous honor for College Board President David Coleman to announce Bottom Line as the Personalized Learning Award of Excellence recipient at the National College Access Network (NCAN) 20th Anniversary National Conference based on our data-driven DEAL model.

One person beaming from the audience while Bottom Line Chief Operating Officer Greg Johnson accepted the award was Chicago Senior Success Counselor Margy Brill. A two-year Bottom Line veteran, Margy counseled students in Bottom Line’s Worcester office before joining the founding Bottom Line – Chicago team. “Our DEAL model isn’t rocket science, but it’s how we as an organization have held our counselors and staff accountable for measuring and achieving very strong college persistence outcomes with our students,” Margy said, reflecting on the significance of NCAN recognizing Bottom Line’s approach to ensuring college persistence.

Of course, BoMargy and Justin, NCAN September 2015ttom Line’s participation in the NCAN conference wasn’t limited to the awards ceremony. Margy delivered a presentation called Power In Numbers along with Justin Strasburger, Bottom Line’s National Success Program Director. The session focused on using data to make informed decisions and drive results for student success.

“We want organizations to make sure that their programs are actually working, and the best way to do this is to effectively and efficiently measure, collect, and analyze data.”

Since joining Bottom Line in July 2013, Margy has used data to determine if students are on track to graduate and go far in a way that provides a high level of organizational accountability. On a day-to-day basis, for Margy that means meeting and talking with students, documenting those interactions, and monitoring outcomes. “Through this process I can ensure that I prioritize contacting students who are facing the most challenges. Using data also helps me be more efficient, which in turn increases my capacity to serve my students better.”

After a year of helping low income, first generation college students in Chicago, the Kalamazoo College alumna is proud of the progress that the Chicago team has made. Many of the higher education administrators Margy had initial conversations with a year ago were surprised by how much data Bottom Line counselors track and measure for each individual student. “One specific question I remember getting a lot was how we were able to keep students engaged with our program. Administrators kept wondering what kind of incentives we gave our students, such as a scholarship. When we explained the level of in-person, individualized support we have the capacity to give each student, they were able to see how we’re able to help students and maintain strong relationships with them without incentives.”

We believe that this intensive, one-on-one approach delivered by our full-time, trained counselors makes all the difference. In Chicago, it already has. Last year, 100% of our inaugural class of high school seniors in the Access program were accepted into college. 97% were accepted to a 4-year college compared to 29% of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students, according to a report released from the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago in December 2014. In the Success program, 96% our first cohort of college freshmen persisted into their second year of college. Nationally, 84% of students in Bottom Line’s Success program graduate from college in 6 years or less, which is more than four times the 14% college graduation rate for CPS students.

Bottom Line – Chicago’s inaugural 2014-2015 class of over 150 low income, first generation students came from 70 Chicago high schools and 50 different neighborhoods. During our second year in Chicago, we have more than doubled the students served to almost 350 with ambitious plans to serve over 2,500 Chicago students by 2020.

This week, Bottom Line Success Counselors are meeting with college students on campus while Access Counselors are providing support to high school students in preparation for hitting “submit.” As we begin the start of the school year, we decided to get some counselor perspectives on their first meetings with students. Below are some of the highlights from the past two weeks of student meetings!

Jabril Robinson – Success Counselor – Bridgewater State, WIT, Boston University

“It feels like you’re giving back. I love being on my alma mater campus and interacting with students and seeing familiar faces. I’ll see old professors or staff walking around and it makes me really excited to be there. I enjoy helping out students who go to my alma mater. It’s a lot of fun to be around that same atmosphere.”

Kate Fiori – Success Counselor – Northeastern University, UMass Dartmouth, Suffolk University

“A highlight from the week was meeting with one of my students and talking about his love for UMass Dartmouth. He’s learned so much from the school and is really excited about graduating. We’re always discussing what he wants to do in the future. He hopes to one day work with children and apply what he’s learned at UMass Dartmouth to his professional life.”

Perry Hull – Senior Success Counselor – Roxbury Community College, Bunker Hill Community College

“This week I met with an administrator at RCC and we discussed the ways in which we could better support students. She was super helpful in providing resources that we need while on campus and it’s always great to meet with leaders of the schools whose campuses we are on. During my campus visits the past two weeks, I’ve been focused on making sure students’ health insurance is set, making sure their bills are paid and ensuring they feel good about their classes. During meetings I try to have them think ahead about how long they want to stay at community college and prepare them for next steps.”

Kira Terril – Career Team Manager

“With my students, we are really hitting the ground running. I have a lot of fall grads so there is a big focus on getting students ready to apply for jobs and life after graduation. It’s great to see them come back from their summers and see how much they’ve changed from internships. I get to see how much more prepared they are for their careers.”

Evan Soken – Access Counselor

“I like first meetings in general. It’s an awesome chance to get students engaged with the program and get them excited about Bottom Line. During first meetings we’re able to lay out the college application process and get students excited about Bottom Line. It can be an enlightening process for them in the beginning.”

Theresa Pickens – Senior Access Counselor

“I’ve been working on helping students with their Posse and QuestBridge applications. I’ve enjoyed seeing what schools all my students are applying to and helping them work through which schools they will attend. During the summer most students aren’t thinking about the college application process, but then the school year comes around and they realize how soon the process begins. Two students in particular come to mind. They’re great students. It’s cool to go through the college application writing process with them and watch them evolve in their writing.”


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Bottom Line Worcester students at The Hanover Insurance Group

Two hundred and sixty-five students were celebrated and supported at Bottom Line’s Success Send Offs this August.

Students attending Central or Western Massachusetts schools were celebrated with an open space perfect for group activities at The Hanover Insurance Group, who hosted the event. Paul Belsito, VP of Community Engagement at Hanover, welcomed students to the space. Linda St. John introduced Dr. Melinda Boone, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, who gave a powerful speech about the college transition. Bottom Line Alumna and current Success Counselor, Abena Mensah, also offered encouraging words of advice to incoming first-year students, urging them to take advantage of opportunities on campus, reach out for support, and be intentional about their time in college. She drove home her key point by explaining that students “have a different level of responsibility now, and even though you should try your best to enjoy the ride, make sure that at the end of your college journey, there are major professional and academic successes you can be proud of.”

Bottom Line Northeastern students at Boston’s Success Send-Off

Students going to schools in the Boston area were greeted with views of the Boston Main Channel, sailboats, and a room adorned in teal and white balloons, all provided by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Bottom Line Executive Director Mike Wasserman introduced Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D. Chairman, President and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, who gave an eye-opening speech on “beliefs, feelings, and the Truth with a capital T,” imploring students to search for their own personal Truth in college. He was followed by Dr. Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools and Martin Meehan, President of the University of Massachusetts System. Bottom Line Alumna and Board Member Christal Fenton-Fortes, who recounted her college experience as a tale for going forward, wrapped up the night’s speeches.

Students at both events built connections with peers, mingled through games, and developed school pride by creating chants and cheers. Another great success!

Written by Lindsay Hough, Bottom Line Success Counselor


Success Counselor, Cara and 2015 Bottom Line Graduate, Najma at Recognition Night in Boston.

Senior Recognition Night is a chance to honor graduating seniors for their hard work and perseverance in earning their college degrees. This year’s events were graciously hosted by Bottom Line corporate partners State Street in Boston and Bowditch & Dewey in Worcester.

On June 3rd, 2015, Worcester area graduates, family members, friends, staff, and supporters gathered at Bowditch & Dewey to commemorate the graduates. They heard from keynote speaker Second Worcester District Senator Michael Moore and from Framingham University 015 graduate, Brittany Booker. Similarly, on June 15th, 2015, Boston-area graduates heard from keynote speaker Chris Gabrieli, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and from Bottom Line student and recent Suffolk University graduate, Najma Hussain.

This was an exciting evening as many of Bottom Line’s graduating seniors are the first in their families to receive a bachelor’s degree. For some students, the path to earning a college degree was a challenging journey of hard work, uncertainty, and promise. Today, however, the final phase of Bottom Line’s motto, to “Get In, Graduate, and Go Far”, is where the Bottom Line class of 2015 now finds itself, having crossed the stage, diploma in hand, armed with the skills necessary to pursue a career in their field. Now more than 200 Bottom Line graduates are joining a growing network of more than 1,000 alumni.

Najma Hussain, a graduating senior from Suffolk University, was the student speaker for the evening. She shared her story of moving to the United States, learning English, the lessons she is taking with her from her college experience, and her hopes for her future career: “I started Bottom Line with the process of applying to college, and this year with Bottom Line, I completed the law school application process– I will be starting law school at Suffolk Law in the fall. With my law degree I want to promote social justice, coexistence, and mutual understanding. Everyone has a voice, and that voice counts toward societal changes that make a better world for all of us, regardless of our race, gender, and religious identity.” Along with Najma, today we celebrate all of the inspirational Bottom Line graduates—of whom we are very proud.

As Bottom Line counselors, we provide our students with a little bit of support and encouragement in a few key areas. But ultimately all the credit belongs to these young adults, whose commitment and resilience, from late nights studying in the library, to working long shifts to help pay tuition, is what has brought them to where they are today. Congratulations to the class of 2015!

Written by Erin O’Donnell, Bottom Line Success Counselor


Bottom Line Success Students at 2015 College Expo.

On Saturday, March 14, 2015, Bottom Line launched its 3rd Annual College Expo at the Reggie Lewis Center. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Bottom Line students, and members of the local community attended the event. The College Expo helps students make an informed decision about which college they want to attend. What made the event unique was that Bottom Line had student representatives from each of our twenty target schools. Students from schools like Boston College, Northeastern University, UMass Amherst, Boston University any many more were there to share their current experiences as a college student and answer any general questions.

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Governor Charlie Baker at Bottom Line College Expo.

Students left feeling more confident and less weary of the college decision-making process.“I had a student who was reluctant to apply to a certain school because hadn’t heard great things about the campus. She spoke to some students at the expo who gave her a different perspective the college and diversity on campus. I think she walked away more open-minded and less apprehensive about wanting to go to that particular college,” said Access Counselor Emily Nolan.

Success students demonstrated strong leadership skills and provided important insight for high school students. “I felt proud watching my current Success students take on a leadership role to help guide younger students towards a positive college choice. Our Success students drew on their admissions experiences, they listened attentively to the high school students and offered sound advice,” said Success Team Manager Amy Markarian.

Written by Salem Gebrezgi