College program helps Bronx teen who suffered family emergency find a school that best fits her needs

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NEW YORK— She always keeps her phone in her bag while doing community service.

But one afternoon, earlier this year, she took her phone out to find dozens of missed calls.

That was the moment Isamar Morillo learned her mother had had a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Luckily, she survived, but suffered temporary blindness and required a couple of surgeries and months of rehab.

"I was very upset. Like I said, I was an only child and Iived with her my whole life. So I was kind of babied. Having her in the hospital the whole time, for 3 months,  I had to kind of grow up," Morillo explained.

This all happened in the middle of Isamar’s senior year.

A talented artist and a hard worker at Mott Hall Bronx High School, she had high hopes to attend NYU.

But despite being accepted to 19 out of 25 schools, NYU was not one of them.

"I was all ready to go to SUNY Binghamton, but then what happened to my mom, I changed my whole plans," Morillo said.

She says she sat down with her counselor at the College Bound Initiative program.

The same counselor who had helped her sift through and apply to multiple schools during the college process.

She had a real talk about life and agreed to look at schools closer to home, mainly in the city.

"When Hunter had accepted me thru the SEEP program, I thought it would be best. I would be going for free, they would actually pay for everything and all I would have to do is take this summer class," Morillo said.

A couple of months into her college career, Isamar says she couldn’t be happier with her decision.

"I've had no regrets. I’m so glad I didn’t go away to dorm. I get to stay with my mom, I still get to keep my part time job. Even though it would have been nice to expand my horizons, I feel like this is the best place for me to learn. Plus, I'm saving a lot of money not going away," Morillo added.

As her mother continues to improve, Isamar is growing as well.

She's shifted from a pre-med major to focus on Women and Gender Studies.

And it’s not lost on her the support she received from the College Bound Initiative during the most difficult period of her life.

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