Happy New Year! As with everyone, the new year is a great time to reflect. There was a lot of tremendous things that happened with Vielka Hoy Consulting, as a business and with our clients. There were also a good chunk of things that happened in the world and in this country that impacted how we think about education and servicing the various types of students who fall under the umbrella of “underserved.” I would like to share some of them with you here and then make some more exciting announcements shortly.

1. Clients. We worked with a record number of clients this year. All of the students came from very different backgrounds, with varied interests and goals. There was a great grandson of a university president. He is a student with great interest in social justice and witnessing incidents within the Black LIves Matter movement this year really lit a fire under him. There was a student who created technology to help the blind and wants to continue working for environmental and social justice. I was impressed with the number of clients who want to become doctors. All girls who are students of color, all who want something more for themselves than what they were handed. Their drive is intoxicating; I can’t imagine that I would have progressed as a person or as a business had I not witnessed these young people find their voices.

I also really enjoyed hearing back from students as they continue their academic journeys. There was a huge chorus of, “If you know any students who want to go to X school or study Y, have them talk to me! I LOVE where I am.” That is a great feeling to have: to know that you are doing the right thing at the right time.

As a side note, another favorite quote of the year comes from a friend who reads some of the personal statements we work through. Her words–”focus on the transcendence, boo”–are applicable to absolutely everything we do and are.

2. Publications. During the last half of the year I had the fortune of being published in Newsweek, The Huffington Post, Inc., and Forbes. It was really humbling to receive that kind of attention especially as I like to say, “I’m just trying to get some kids through college.” I think to talk about students of color, including immigrant students and girls, in a political climate where those experiences were not valued, certainly taught me a lot. Getting certain students through college was never easy, and it certainly isn’t any easier now. After the election, I had a good number of students come to me and ask why they were continuing their academic pursuits when they were going to be deported, dismissed, or felt disillusioned. I removed the “just” in my statement immediately. For underserved communities, getting through college is more important now than ever, and I’m proud to bring light to subject as often as I can.

I think the thing that struck me the most was the response I received from some of the publications. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but I did receive a few very upset comments from people who felt that discussion of anything related to people of color amounted to some version of reverse racism. Really quickly, because I can’t stand that comment, any -ism has to do with power. While I think President Obama has done some great things for people of color, I don’t think it has resulted in a reversal of hierarchies. That’s a lot for one man to undo in eight years. And just look at who is coming right after him and the reasons people have used to justify voting for someone who is clearly against their interests. For that, I do think that those of us on the left or who are race-minded, tend to have difficulty messaging. We don’t explain how an action for people of color helps everyone. Greater police oversight and accountability helps everyone. Decrease in unemployment in one community helps everyone. And everyone getting a fair shot at graduating from college helps everyone.

3. Scaling. With that need coming to light even more, I realized I had to scale the business. I will discuss more about how that will look soon (I can’t wait!) but for now, just in self-reflection, it was a tremendously difficult process for me to personally undertake. I realize that I doubted myself very much like the students I encounter and found myself leaning on friends and family more and more to be my cheerleaders (feel free to do some cheerleading below 🙂 ). Like the students, once I began moving over that hump (that’s a perpetual hump so I don’t think one can permanently move over it), I needed to know how. As with my business (thinking about the structure), and with the services we provide, there was a tremendous amount of defining precisely what it is that we do and how. I like to think of myself as a very abstract, theoretical thinker. So scaling for me was about outlining the process of college matriculation as, say an arc, then placing dots along that arc where things work and don’t work and for whom, such as disruptors and little bridges. Then I could think about the students I have encountered and how we addressed their…dots. And then scale the bridges (hint). I think you’ll really like how it all turns out.

I hope the new year finds you in the mood to self-reflect as well. Make changes where you need to and find the courage to do it. Wishing you all the best. -V