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Megan, a first-generation Montgomery College alumna and University of Maryland student from the Philippines, says her family came to the United States for the prospect of “better jobs, better education, and overall, a better life.”

The combined efforts of a support group for low-income and underserved Asian American youth in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia—and Montgomery College—paved the way for Megan to persevere through some tough times—and make her dream a reality.

Megan says although the move was a positive change for her family, her initial experience in the US left her struggling to fit in. Moreover, she found herself teaching her parents how things worked in the US. Megan said her parents, although very loving, came not only from a different generation, but also from a different culture. They could not provide the support she needed in her academic and personal life.

Through a classmate at Albert Einstein High School, Megan found Asian American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development (AALEAD). AALEAD provides educational empowerment, identity development, and leadership opportunities.

“Through our programs that support young people’s social and emotional learning and the thoughtful support from Montgomery College, we believe—and see—our youth succeed and make positive decisions to impact their education and future,” says Neel Saxena, executive director of AALEAD.

“AALEAD was there to help me with my homework and my personal problems,” says Megan.

She says she also relied on AALEAD to assist her with high school graduation requirements and the enrollment process at Montgomery College.

Megan credits Tina, a “superwoman” program manager at AALEAD, for encouraging her to enroll in the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program at MC. She says that getting into the program boosted her self-confidence and provided her with professional networking skills that will help her the rest of her life.

Not only did Megan earn valuable skills, but also she received two-thirds tuition in scholarship funds as well as funds for books and technology as a Hillman Entrepreneurs student. She also earned a one-time $500 merit scholarship through the Montgomery College Foundation.

Now a community health major/entrepreneurship minor at the University of Maryland, Megan says she hopes she can start an organization like AALEAD one day so she can help families in need—and help students reach their dreams.


For more information on Montgomery College’s Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, visit For more information on AALEAD, visit

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