Gabriel Palomino: Going to College

Urban Upbound NYC
2 min readJun 25, 2021

by Urban Upbound’s staff members

Gabriel Palomino didn’t have big plans for life after high school. Then one summer, while working a low-wage job at a well known fast food chain, he decided to go to college. Gabriel moved back to New York to live with his grandmother in Queens. He saw more opportunities here than in Florida, where he had been living most recently.

In his sophomore year of high school, Gabriel began looking into several SAT Prep services. He went through several services recommended to him by his school counselor. Gabriel ultimately chose Urban Upbound because it was free and he saw that the Urban Upbound team really cared about its participants, helping them improve test scores as well as ensuring students fully understand the college application process. “From the get go, I saw how caring, kind, and honest everyone was at the [College Access] program. […] It was like a community — something to look forward to after school,” shared Gabriel.

After a year of preparation with Urban Upbound, his SAT score increased by 120 points. Then, when it was time to put together his college applications and write his college essay, Gabriel found it hard to open up, be vulnerable, and write down his story for others to read. He was grateful to work with an essay editor at Urban Upbound that he felt really understood him and made him feel comfortable sharing his story.

In addition to college applications, Urban Upbound’s team also helped him apply for several financial aid programs. Gabriel was distraught when he received $0 in federal student aid. Our team helped Gabriel appeal the decision, and to everyone’s surprise, we learned that the reason was that Gabriel had been accepted to Baruch College with a full scholarship!

Gabriel’s high SAT score, sincere essay, and positive attitude really shone through in his college application. “Anything is possible,” says Gabriel.

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Urban Upbound NYC

A collection of stories around NYC’s public housing communities curated by Urban Upbound, a non-profit organization with a mission to break cycles of poverty.