Recently, while clearing out my inbox, I came across an old email that I sent during my senior year of high school to a reporter that wanted to write a story on First Serve – New Mexico. I remember writing a response to the reporter highlighting all of the different aspects of the program that I had liked. I also highlighted how the program was not only a good fit for me but it also could potentially be a great fit for so many other people. When looking at this email, I noticed that my response had an overarching theme that First Serve New Mexico has kept me grounded. This program did not only give me a place to go after school but it also guided me on a path that made me into the person that I am today.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a drive to do well. I always wanted to succeed and go to a great college. When I heard about the First Serve program in eighth grade, I immediately thought it would be a perfect fit for me. Initially, I thought it would be good because it would be a safe place where I could go and do my homework, and it would get me into a sport. I hated being active at the time that I started the program. I was an overweight kid who did not want to be a part of a sport at all, and would even try to get hit at the beginning of dodge ball games so that I wouldn’t have to play. However, my father gave me an ultimatum: either I would find a sport I want to join or he would find one for me. I am so glad I found First Serve. I did not know what to expect on the first day of the program. I put in an application to join, and I was ready for a follow up interview that was specified in the application as a possibility. That first day I was accepted into the program with open arms. I was excited but I definitely was not prepared for this program to have such an impact in my life. Years later, I’m not only embracing being more active, but I am also coaching tennis for First Serve.

Looking back on the five years that I was in the program, I had so many opportunities because of First Serve. I was able to excel in school and get any help that I needed. I also got a chance to be a part of a team. These two aspects definitely shaped my personality and drive to succeed. However, I believe it was the little things that were implemented into my life, through the program, that impacted me the most. The one lesson that I learned that has stuck with me all of these years was to always be accountable. If it was in class or on the court, I knew that I was the only one responsible for my actions. First Serve taught me this through the exceptional tennis instruction that I was exposed to. My couches have always taught me that you are in control of the game and you are responsible for the outcome. This particular lesson has been very helpful in other aspects of my life. I hold myself accountable for my current studies. The way I see it is that if you do not know the material in the class it is entirely your fault that you did not do well on the exam, given that there are so many ways to go about making sure you know the material. This lesson is an important aspect of life that every single person needs to learn. I was fortunate enough to learn this lesson through listening to my mentors and coaches. First Serve gave me the best support system that any child could have by far.

These aspects of the program were rewarding, however I would not have been able to succeed as much as I did without the support of Eleanor and Elizabeth. Eleanor would be at every tutoring session making sure every child’s needs were met. I was struggling with calculus BC during my senior year of high school. This course was one of the hardest courses at Santa Fe High. After I told Eleanor of my troubles in this course, she hired a private tutor for me to work with. With this generosity, I was able to get the help that I needed in high school and I was able to be a Royal Blue, an award given to the top ten percent of students in the senior class, my last year of high school. I was also accepted into the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology where I am about to complete my junior year pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Without Eleanor and Elizabeth’s support I would not have been able to have the courage to choose such a difficult career program. Both of them encouraged me and wrote me a recommendation letter to get into the program that I wanted. After starting college and seeing how much First Serve helped me throughout the years, I know I have been fortunate to be able to be a part of this amazing program.

Looking back on the many years that I was in First Serve I have received excellent tennis instruction and tutoring. I have also been given a chance to succeed and be supported all throughout my education. First Serve kept me grounded with giving me a home away from home. I always knew that every day I had a place that I could go after school that was safe and filled with other kids who wanted to succeed as much as I did. Overall, I believe that First Serve – New Mexico is about showing every kid that they have a support system, a place to grow and achieve their dreams. Without this program I would never have pursued my dreams.