PERSONAL STATEMENT is a documentary film about three remarkable CARA-trained Youth Leaders supporting their peers through the college process while applying to college themselves.
Personal Statement showcases the challenges that young people face who are the first in their family to attend college - and the remarkable potential of peer leadership to address those challenges.
Accessing the Film
To learn more about Personal Statement, you can visit the film’s website at www.PersonalStatementFilm.com
If you are interested in bringing the full length film to your school or community, you can learn more about how to do so through Good Docs: https://www.gooddocs.net/personal-statement
Select Screenings and Premiers
Christine Rodriguez published an Op Ed on the eve of the Capitol Hill screening, published by Diverse Issues in Higher Ed. She wrote: “There’s been so much attention lately about the college admission scandal… But there’s a far bigger scandal that our leaders have long ignored: many high school seniors who deserve to attend college don’t have the advice and support that they need to get there…
Only 9 percent of people in the lowest income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by the time they turn 24, compared to 77 percent from the highest income quartile. We want to believe the American Dream is attainable for all, but how can we when what we really have is a birth lottery?
We need to distribute resources more equitably, including allocating more funding for public education, targeting resources to the students who need them most, and making college affordable. The only way to truly have social mobility is to make college equally accessible to everyone.”
American Counseling Association
Center for Postsecondary Readiness & Success at American University
ACT – Center for Equity in Learning
Corporation for Public Broadcasting – American Graduate Program
College Promise – Civic Nation
United Negro College Fund
College Success Foundation
Four Point Education Partners
Following the film screening, The City Council of the City of Philadelphia issued a resolution:
“…be it RESOLVED, THAT THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, … recognizes the critical role that school counselors play in meeting students’ academic, social/emotional, and postsecondary planning needs; and calls on the School District of Philadelphia to institute the American School Counselor Association’s recommended student-counselor ratio of 250 to 1.”
CARA was proud to host the first New York City screening of the film on October 10th at the CUNY Graduate Center. It was great to have so many of our school and CBO partners, funders, and young people, together for the event.
We were honored to have CUNY’s Interim Chancellor Vita Rabinowitz open the evening and remind us of the critical role CUNY has played in serving first-generation college students. Kesi Foster, lead organizer from Make the Road NY, framed the film by explaining the youth organizing movement that led to the model of youth leadership for college access portrayed in the film; and CARA co-Director Lori Chajet traced the growth of a peer-to-peer model for college access and retention from 16 peer leaders in 2007 to over 400 in 2018.
The American Film Institute (AFI) opened AFI DOCS 2018 Film Festival with a world premier of PERSONAL STATEMENT in Washington, DC.
After the film, Rick Cruz, Chief of Strategy and Innovation for Houston Public Schools moderated a panel with the filmmakers – Julie Dressner and Edwin Martinez – and the three Youth Leaders – Christine Rodriguez, Karoline Jimenez, and Enoch Jemmott.
Cruz said the film “speaks to an issue that is so critical – an issue about access, aboutopportunity that is too often ignored, and this is not an issue specific to NYC public schools. It is an issue that most districts in our country are facing… [these issues] are so systemic.”
Karoline, a former Youth Leader and Bridge Coach from the Franklin K. Lane campus – now a junior at SUNY New Paltz said she hopes the film helps people to see that “a lot of good things happen when you believe in young people.”
PERSONAL STATEMENT IN THE MEDIA
- Interview with Former Peer Leader, Enoch Jemmott, and director, Julie Dressner, “College process revealed in new film,” CBS News: April 4, 2019
- Interview with director, Julie Dressner on SwampED Podcast, May 16, 2019
- Op-Ed by Former Peer Leader, Enoch Jemmott, “The Implicit Punishment of Daring to Go to College When Poor,” The New York Times: March 28, 2019
- Article by Former Peer Leader, Karoline Jimenez, STUDENT VOICE: ‘College was just another foreign word. Then it became a dream for every student in my school,’ The Hechinger Report: February 25, 2019
- Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity: “Equal Access to College Hampered by Lack of Guidance Counselors,” January 30, 2019
- BillyPenn: “Philly schools slashed student counselors, so this campaign is trying to bring them back,” January 26, 2019
- Interview with Former Youth Leader, Christine Rodriguez, “‘Personal Statement’ Screening at University of Pennsylvania,” NBC Philadelphia: January 21, 2019
- Jewish Exponent: “Film Event Captures School Counselor Need,” January 18, 2019
- KYW News Radio: “School screens documentary highlighting need for more counselors,” January 18, 2019
- The Notebook: “Film screening on Monday to highlight need for more counselors,” January 16, 2019
- Interview with CARA’s co-director, Janice Bloom, on PBS WORLD America Reframed, January 3, 2019