April 20, 2023

Achiever Spotlight: Marisol

Our monthly Achiever Spotlight highlights current and alumni achievers. For current Achievers, we look at how the Friends-Boston program is impacting them today. For alumni, we see the role the program played in helping them to find success after they graduated. Their stories are part of our story, and we're excited to share them.

This month, we're highlighting a current Achiever: Marisol*.


Marisol's been a part of the Friends-Boston program for nearly five years. Currently in fifth grade, the program's had a big impact on her life. By having a mentor who's always showing an interest in how she's feeling, her self-confidence and sense of self-worth have increased.

Last year, Marisol was struggling with peer conflict and issues with motivation, and this created a situation that made it difficult for her to want to attend school. This has been a problem for many students since the pandemic, but her Friend, Paula, took immediate steps to get Marisol back on the right track. Paula got funding to buy Marisol a cute alarm clock to get her up on time in the morning, created a checklist for a morning routine, and established healthy habits to be ready and prepared. Paula also connected her with some emotional support staff at school who are helping Marisol to process emotions and reset during difficult moments throughout the day. This year, Marisol has almost no absences. Lots of growth! Plus, she’s also showing responsibility by making sure that her little brother gets to school.

Along with providing support, Marisol's Friend also connects her with opportunities to have new experiences.

Marisol’s participated in the circus arts program through our partnership with Circus Up, which allowed her to challenge herself to build a growth mindset that will help her with future goals. Additionally, she participated as a cast member in a 2019 staging of Frozen. She can be shy, so this opportunity encouraged her to come out of her shell. In fact, her energy and talent got the attention of the production staff who were really impressed.

Marisol’s also participating in the Friends-Boston entrepreneurship program – one of the first fifth graders to do this. She’s shown that she has the core assets of self-management, self-determination, and growth mindset to work together with others on the finance team. She’s also applying her math practice goal toward making this project a success through the budget.

When talking about Marisol, Paula had this to say: “Marisol and I have a really powerful emotional connection. Ever since she was young, I felt like she was comfortable feeling the full spectrum of emotions with me. If she was playing a game and lost, she felt her emotions so strong that she would start crying. In those moments, I would just hug and hold her. I’m also a person who expresses emotions in powerful ways, and ever since she was young we’ve been able to share an understanding that it’s alright to feel those emotions in the moment so that we can come back to a place where we’re grounded and centered. Marisol is one of the most curious people I’ve ever met. She constantly asks questions. No matter where we go, we talk. She’s an active learner who’s curious and always asking questions. Her curiosity allows her to build lasting relationships with other adults and her peers. She’ll be able to take those strengths as she continues her journey into the adolescent program to continue having experiences that Friends-Boston offers to engage with other people and groups. Her curiosity will get her to many, many places. She’s one of my youth who knows me the best, and she makes me feel like we’re actually friends.”

Marisol thinks of Paula as not just her Friend, but as someone who's like a big sister. Those are the strong, lasting connections that the Friends-Boston program builds!

*Name changed.