Olivia Mora is a central character in Miles Corwin's new book. He says of her background: "By the time she was 16, she had lived in a dozen foster homes. She had been removed from her home at age 12 because of abuse, and she was at one time virtually homeless and living out of her car. Yet, she was still taking a full load of honors and AP classes her senior year."
Ms. Mora is now a business student at the private Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. She credits her acceptance and full scholarship to the attention she received through the gifted magnet program at Crenshaw High School in South-Central Los Angeles. "Our teachers and counselors gave us more direction, expected us to be good students, go on to college, and do good things, whereas the regular students were held to very low expectations."
Many Babson students are well off, drive expensive cars, and assume other students have the same background, Mora says. "A lot of people here are really sheltered, and they don't realize that it's not the same everywhere else."
When Mora tells other students she comes from inner-city Los Angeles, she says they often have stereotypical views. But, she counters, "Everything isn't negative, everyone isn't involved in a gang," nor do they all speak slang, she says.
Mora is one of 28 black students of the 2,000 or so students at Babson. She is active in the Black Student Union and tries to get other students involved. "I think it's important for colleges to really try to encourage diversity," she says.
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