ASA Guide Right
— Nishan Watson (Hiram High School Academy of Computer Science)
My name is Nishan and I am a sophomore in the Hiram High School Academy of Computer Science in Hiram, Georgia. Currently, I am a member of the Alpharetta-Smyrna Alumni (ASA) Guide Right Program as a Kappa League member. I have been a member of this organization since the 6th grade as a Junior Kappa League member. One of the pillars of the Guide Right program is Training. This pillar deals with academic, career selections, preparation and organization. The College Prep Cohort works to fulfill this pillar as it provides an opportunity to become further prepared for the college and scholarship process.
When the Cohort program was presented as an additional resource in addition to the Guide Right Program, I believed that it would be a good program to participate in and see what it had to offer. I was a participant in the SAT/ACT prep that ASA Guide was offering and believed that the College Cohort would be another useful resource. As with other freshmen, the excitement of going to high school and then the overwhelming reality of waiting. I’m in high school and in four years I will be going to college. What college, how will I get there? This seems to run through my mind.
With the overwhelming thought of what needs to be completed in order to be on the right track, I joined the cohort program. My goal was to gain knowledge and possible experiences on what the entire picture of the college preparation process would be like. In my mind, I thought I was good academically because I was a straight A student, an athlete, and in a magnet program. Surely, it would be good enough to get into my school of choice. During the first session with Mr. and Mrs. Wynn, they mentioned all those things, good grades, being an athlete, etc., but then there was a “but.” They started to expound that having good grades, or being an athlete, was not going to cut it, if I or anyone else wanted to go to their top school of choice like Florida State University or any other high profile school. I was informed that there needed to be more which meant we had to stand out above the other qualified candidates who also had good grades. They asked multiple thought provoking questions which helped me understand that I didn’t have the whole picture as I thought but only part of it. I had to start developing a college playbook which included a college resume. This resume would need to include my extracurricular activities, leadership positions, community service, and finally my honors and awards. I would also need to keep track of my classes and seek out the most advanced classes offered by my school. They made me ask myself the following, “What made Nishan Watson unique and stand out among others?”
After the first meeting I started working through the modules and attending the group discussions. Afterwards, I began to re-align my activities, academic and personal goals to align with what I wanted for my end and college goal. I then started seeking out more leadership roles, community service activities and more advanced courses. In the monthly discussion groups we would give feedback on each slide, and discuss where we could grow or what we could do better as it pertains to the following month’s module. The groups were beneficial because I engaged with other like-minded individuals. These individuals were my competition but on the other hand my fellow peers and we were supportive and encouraging of each other.
As a result of attending the discussion groups with the Cohort and participating in different aspects with the ASA Guide Right program, I developed more confidence and became more outspoken. I also gained additional leadership skills and positions when I became the Chaplain of my Guide Right chapter along with becoming a board member for the National Guide Right program. As a board member, I am able to assist with the planning of events for the Guide Rights program nationwide including the “Getting Out to Vote” campaign, and the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
As a sophomore, I often look back at my freshman year to see what I’ve accomplished. I did not want to be involved in many activities as I wanted to acclimate myself to this new life of being a high schooler and what all my school had to offer. I finished my freshman year by setting personal records during my Track and Field session, making all A’s both semesters, and being in the top 10 of my class. Now, as a Sophomore, I aim to maintain those academic achievements, along with setting more personal records while continuing to grow and build my playbook. I have started that process by being a member of the Marching Band where I am the captain of the bass line. I have also been accepted into the Chick-fil-la leadership academy and the Beta Club. I still have so much more to accomplish.
Overall, I am thankful and grateful for my extended village and family within the ASA Guide Right Program. For it does take a village. The purpose of the Guide Right program is to place the training experience and life lessons of successful men at the disposal of youth for the educational and occupational guidance and I truly believe this to be true. The ASA Guide Right program has helped to grow and come out of my shell. When I started with them, I was a shy, soft spoken kid. As I matriculate through the program and take advantage of the opportunities and programs that they lay before us, I will continue to be a better student, brother, son, Kappa Leaguer and an overall better version of Nishan. They are planting seeds and experiences now that will flourish in the future, and I thank them for that support. The mentors and coaches are amazing, selfless, and dedicated individuals. They are always willing to go beyond the call of duty and are fun to be around. My mentors in particular, Mr. Rosemond, Mr. Eberhardt, Mr. Layton, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Lucas has always had my back and been supportive and encouraging. They have not only shown their support through their words of affirmation but also in the way they carry themselves. They are great leaders in this program and are always having our best interest at heart. During my time in the Guide Right Program they have taken us on college tours, community service activities and through many states to attend the once in a lifetime 100 year centennial of the Guide Right Program. I am looking forward to continuing my participation in the Guide Right program until my Kappa League days end. Then I want to be able to return the favor and grace by being a mentor to uprising Kappa Leaguers and helping others as they have helped me.
This is Alpharetta Smyrna Alumni Kappa Leaguer, National Board Member Nishan Watson.
We have partnered with the the Alpharetta-Smyrna Alumni (ASA) Guide Right Program since 2018. While we have had many academically accomplished young men come through our program, Nishan is one of the students who is not only intellectually curious, but who has embraced the idea of “Owning the Process.” He has been receptive to constructive criticism; has been intentional in his course taking; and has embraced the idea of maximizing his “Athletic Advantage” by being academically accomplished; taking rigorous coursework; being a leader; and making a difference in his school and community.