Spotlight: High School Outreach Ambassador Kwesi Essilfie
April 1, 2013
It is 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and 19-year-old California State University, Northridge sophomore student, Kwesi Essilfie, possesses a welcoming smile for he just began working as a high school outreach ambassador for Building Connections for Success Tuesday morning.
Essilfie works with other Building Connections for Success high school outreach ambassadors to alleviate local teen’s fears and questions regarding the higher education process. The outreach ambassadors deliver presentations targeted to the junior and senior level high school students throughout the academic year.
The outreach ambassadors provide updated information on governmental websites and the various types of aid available to high school students.
One aspect of working as a high school outreach ambassador for Building Connections for Success that Essilfie thrives on is that he is able to help teens navigate through the many channels that complicate the processes of applying for colleges or universities.
As a high school outreach ambassador, Essilfie provides students with details on the value and importance of obtaining a higher education. Along with his fellow outreach ambassadors, Essilfie highlights areas of the higher education process that may appear difficult to complete and master.
In a sample of 483 high school students from the Spring to Fall 2011 year, evaluation reports indicate “over 94% of the high schools students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the [outreach ambassador’s] presentation increased their desire to attend college/university, increased their motivation to start the college/university admission process, and that they planned to attend college/university after high school” (2012 Building Connections for Success Internal Evaluation).
Becoming an outreach ambassador fulfilled Essilfie’s passion of working in community outreach and youth programs. In looking toward his future, he wants to pursue a career in health administration.
“I attended a high school that required all students complete 200 hours of community service,” said Essilfie. “In the end, I completed over 350 hours and most hours consisted of conducting clerical work at a non-profit organization and tutoring high school students.”
When presenting to a room of junior and senior level high school students, Essilfie works with a fellow Building Connections for Success outreach ambassador to present on the importance of attending a college and/or university and the options of filing for financial assistance.
After presenting, the outreach ambassadors provide the high school students with their contact information. The ambassadors allot office hours at California State University, Northridge to provide answers to high school student’s emails or advice on the higher education application process. Essentially, the ambassadors are the first connection to college for many of the high school students.
“When the students arrive to college as incoming freshman, he or she will possess at least one connection at the university,” said Essilfie of the importance of outreach ambassadors networking with the high school students. “The student will not need to feel as if s/he is alone. Instead, a sense of community can be established early on.”
Essilfie credits his parents for always pushing him to reach for an opportunity at any time it presents itself. His parents’ words keep him looking at potential possibilities with determination and drive.
Essilfie classifies four university programs as his “strong support systems”. He acknowledges that CSUN’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), FreshStart program and Building Connections for Success enabled him to step out of his comfort zone, begin talking to other students and faculty members and form relationships that strengthened the skills needed to be a positive and engaging high school outreach ambassador. As a member and philanthropy/community service chairman for the fraternity Phi Delta Theta, Essilfie is continually surrounded by support.
When looking to his future, Essilfie says attending graduate school seems very likely to happen.
“I will probably take a year off after graduating California State University, Northridge with my bachelor’s degree in health administration,” said Essilfie. “However, I will return for graduate school because I see myself obtaining a master’s degree in public health or becoming a college or high school counselor.”
Focusing on community outreach activities and work is Essilfie’s passion and he will not deter from obtaining his dream.