Janel Reyes, a 2021 graduate of Florida Cyber Charter Academy (FLCCA), hopes to represent the 56% of first-generation college students who are the first of their entire immediate family to earn a BA. She plans do so at the University of Central Florida.
Reyes, an only child, gives much of the credit for her academic success to her advisor and her online school.
“Online learning is different,” she said. “Because I have my own schedule, the teachers are more helpful, the academics are better, and I just enjoy it more than brick and mortar school.”
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding online learning--that it’s somehow inferior to traditional brick and mortar learning. Reyes, who has been attending online school at FLCCA since eighth grade, wants to dispel those negative connotations, especially the idea that she does not have the opportunity to engage with her fellow classmates and teachers.
“It’s not like that at all,” Reyes said. “I communicated with my teachers. I talked to my parents more than when I was at my old school. And you have more of a friendship with your teachers.”
The emphasis placed on relationship building with her teachers and advisors has been pivotal in Reyes’ quest to become a first-generation college student. But it’s the soft skills, the intangibles that have driven her success and will help her continue to succeed down the line and in her career.
“I learned how to be independent,” Reyes said. “Since I don’t have a classroom to be in or a teacher in the room with me, I had to teach myself how to do something if there wasn’t someone right away to help me.” Reyes also attributes her improved social skills to her time at online school.
Like so many high school students, Reyes thinks of the bigger picture. She is excited to be the first in her family to go to college, but her ultimate goal is to become a police officer. She hopes to begin that career path at UCF, where she plans to study criminal justice.
Reyes credits her advisors for her success They have been the ones to point her to the criminal justice program at UCF and to help her submit her applications. Her advisors also helped her get a hold on financial aid.
“My advisor told me to do a Bright Future Scholarship,” Reyes said. “I was able to volunteer at a local school and I finished my hours for the scholarship, but I still do it because I like going there. It also helps my college application because it adds experience of being around kids and working in an office.”
Reyes is just one out of so many first-generation college student success stories, and it’s only growing more and more by the year. College may not be the only path to success, as she has seen with her parents. But to her, being the first in her family to achieve that benchmark is all the more meaningful.
To learn more about Florida Cyber Charter Academy, visit flcca.k12.com