Lessons Learned


I have never traveled before and was really scared to fly on a plane to visit Highlands University. I was didn’t know how to deal with LAX. I worried about taking a shuttle from the airport to the ferry landing. It was a lot of new experiences and plus I had fears about visiting the college. At SCIF I learned that the anticipation is much worse than the actual deeds. It all went fine. My confidence increased and I now know that I can do much more than I ever thought.


In SCIF and AVID I had a lot of forms to fill out. Filling out forms made me anxious so I didn’t focus on accuracy because I wanted them to be finished. That was the wrong mindset because I made errors that were very stressful to correct. I spent weeks dealing with the IRS and FAFSA. I learned that when filling out forms you should be more like a construction worker: measure twice and cut once. I now check my forms twice and only deal with the outcomes once.


I worked, played football, took AP courses, and was in AVID and SCIF. During football playoffs I was injured. I started to feel the pressure of performing well at school and finishing all my college applications early in order to get scholarships. It felt awful. A times I wanted to give up. In SCIF I learned that the only way through hell is to keep walking it until you get to the other side. At times it felts like a crawl, but I made it through and a proud of myself for all I accomplished.


In SCIF we learn that there will never be a perfect college. This is why we educate ourselves on college outcomes, retention rates, loan default rates, affordability, internships, and opportunities. It is why we visit at least 3 colleges and make pros and cons lists. We base our college decisions on the facts first and the heart second. Then we prepare for the worst and strive for the best.


I learned that if you don’t ask you don’t get. My financial aid package was too high for me, so I made a formal appeal based on the facts in my life. The college dropped my costs by $5000 per year. The hour I spend on my appeal saved me $20,000. That was a great lesson to learn!


Part of our island culture is to make excuses; to deflect blame and still feel respected. We learn that excuses are lies wrapped in pretty paper. Real respect comes from self-respect, and self-respect comes from admitting your errors, apologizing, and fixing them. If you do this then you learn to respect yourself, and others will trust and respect you as well.


I’m 18 and true to my age I have acted selfishly to try to make myself happy. It never worked for long. I learned that true happiness, real contentment, comes from service and sacrifice. New shoes are nice for now, but helping to build a home with Habitat for Humanity in Taos will always bring a smile to my face.


In SCIF and AVID we learn to show our appreciation. Besides our families, the other heroes behind our success are our mentors, teachers, school administrators, and our unsung heroes: the school office personnel. Thank you for sending all of our transcripts, printing materials, helping us with forms and calls, and keeping us calm when we were under duress!


In SCIF I learned to save my money to invest in my future. It is sometimes hard to do when you are also trying to be a social person and want to look nice and make a good impression. In our classes we learned to utilize small economies so that we can live an enjoyable life while still saving money.


In SCIF I learned that none of us are perfect and teens will act their age. Growing up is a process of learning from our mistakes. All of us in SCIF had lapses in judgment at one time or another, but we remained in SCIF because we talked to the Director, took responsibility, and then took steps to repair our mistakes. With SCIF I learned that this type of honestly and openness generates respect and the support of others.


Islanders are family, and like family we don’t always get along. I used to think that when I didn’t get along with someone it was best to ignore them. Now I don’t do this anymore. In SCIF I learned that it is much better to be polite and friendly so that I can keep the lines of communication open. You don’t need to be friends to be polite and friendly, and it is a big stress reducer in the long run.


At SCIF most of us need to visit 3 out of state colleges in order to get a full SCIF scholarship. I knew that I did not want to attend college out of state, but I did go on out of state trips. I learned a lot about the different states, colleges, and people. Mostly I learned about me. Even though I chose an in-state school, I now will not fear a study abroad program or future opportunities that involve traveling – and even one day relocating.


In SCIF we learn that confidence comes from competence. There are situations that I‘ve avoided because I didn’t exactly know what to do. And now I know to ask people ahead of time what I should know. Here is what they have taught me:

  • I know to bring host gifts when I’m a guest.
  • I know to say thank you in at least 3 different ways.
  • I know to wait until at least 3 people are served before starting to eat.
  • I know that in conversations when all else fails you should ask them questions about their lives.
  • I’ve learned to turn my phone off at meetings and in social settings.

Now I am much more confident in unfamiliar situations.


I’ve learned the art of skillful communication.

  • Respond promptly to written and verbal communications.
  • Save all correspondences in case you need them later.
  • Ask for clarification.
  • BCC or CC an authority figure on important information.
  • Don’t hesitate to call and cask questions but always follow up in writing.
  • If you don’t get an appropriate answer call someone else.
  • Keep at it until you get what you need.

All of these tips have helped me be a better communicator.