Catching up with Summer Program alum Cassandra Gray

As many of the learners from our Readiness Institute Summer Program know, our connection doesn’t just end after the summer. We continue to stay in touch with learners when they go back for their senior year, after they graduate high school, and beyond. We recently checked in with some of the young adults who were a part of the inaugural cohort of the Summer Program in 2021. They have now graduated high school and are on to their next steps of adulthood. This series will feature several of our Readiness Institute Summer Program alums to see where they are now, hear about their favorite memories of the summer experience, and collect any words of advice for their fellow alums!

Cassandra Gray

Cassandra GrayWhere are you now?

Right now I’m in my second semester as a first-year student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in information science and DNID (digital narrative and interactive design). I live off campus as a commuter, so I make sure to participate in various clubs and activities.

What do you enjoy most about where you are now?

I enjoy the closeness of campus to home. I’m able to focus on my classes as well as help my mom with her medical issues. The university has given me the ability to explore different areas of interest as well as meet new people in different fields. It also allowed me to develop independence and take on more responsibility.

How has your life changed since the Readiness Institute? 

I feel as though I’ve become more organized and focused since my time at the Readiness Institute. I set goals for myself for the next week, month, and year and plan on executing them. If someone were to ask me where I see myself in the next five years, I feel like I can paint a pretty clear picture. The Readiness Institute equipped me with invaluable skills that have helped me throughout interviews, schoolwork, and life, which I’ll be forever grateful for. There’s been a strong urge to push myself out of the box that I usually stay in; without that urge I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities I have. When I find myself in those situations of being too scared to do something I think of a quote I found while making my 2023 dream board that says, “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” It’s definitely instilled a stronger confidence in me.

What is your favorite memory of the Readiness Institute?

The trip to Sunny’s Garden would be my favorite because it was an overall relaxing but fun experience. We helped around the garden and also learned about the value of volunteer service and its benefits. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to be a leader and work with a diverse group of people. It also gave all of us the chance to get to know each other a little more.

What advice or message do you have for your fellow Readiness Institute alums? 

Thank you all for providing support and being like a family to me. It’s helped me a lot to know that there is a group of people outside of my direct family I can reach out to for advice, resources, or even cat memes.

See all Summer Program blog posts