NYU CALI Alum, Kelci-Brooke Goodison.

This article was originally published in March 2022 and has been updated for republication.

The NYU College Access Leadership Institute (CALI) has shaped young minds for over a decade now. Helping students navigate the complicated college application process is the programʼs goal. And as a staff member, I have had the privilege of taking part in the program for the last few years. In my second year as a staff volunteer, I met Kelci-Brooke Goodison. I worked with Kelci-Brooke to answer her questions about the process. So I was thrilled to learn NYU admitted her in the fall of 2020. Fast-forward a few years, and she is a CALI alum and an undergraduate Admissions Ambassador. 

As an ambassador, Kelci-Brooke is on the other side of the table. She now has the responsibility of welcoming prospective students like her to the University and demystifying the college application process. Here, Kelci-Brooke shares her journey from NYU CALI participant to Admissions Ambassador. 


Why did you apply to the NYU CALI program?

My mother first told me about NYU CALI. She knew NYU was my dream school and found out about the program from one of the school’s newsletters. I was really excited about applying to NYU CALI. But the opportunity to experience NYU and its campus is what drew me to the program. Having the ability to actually stay on campus for a week helped reassure me that NYU was the right school for me.

During that week, I experienced what life would be like as an NYU student. Everything from living in a dorm and walking to the various NYU buildings to experiencing life in a city and the welcoming culture of NYU students and staff.

But its focus on college preparation is another aspect that drew me to NYU CALI. Through the various workshops and seminars, I learned about the Common App, how to write the college essay, and how to apply for financial aid. It was especially useful to gain this knowledge from NYU admissions counselors. They have years of experience in the college application process.

What were some of the biggest takeaways for you?

While there were numerous things I learned while attending NYU CALI, how to be confident in and advocate for myself were the biggest takeaways for me. I remember we talked about our identity during one workshop. And we did an activity where we wrote down some of the values we hold dear to who we are. Eventually, we were told to cross out each value until there was one left. Then we were asked how we felt about crossing out each value.

This activity’s purpose was to show how our values are central to who we are and how we should apply to college confident in ourselves. We were also taught how to advocate for ourselves through the encouragement to actively participate in panels and ask for assistance in writing our college essay. By the end of the program, I felt more confident in applying to college as well as having the ability to advocate for myself.

How has the CALI program impacted your time at NYU so far? How did it prepare you for college life and academics?

The CALI program has had a significant impact on my time at NYU. The program prepared me for the hustle and bustle of college life. For example, throughout the program, I learned how to organize my class schedule, balance classes and extracurricular activities, and navigate the NYU campus. These skills were very useful, especially for my first year on campus. But how to be assertive is the most important skill I learned. It has helped me a lot while attending NYU.

As a second-year student who is starting to develop their academic concentration, it is important to be assertive to find the necessary resources and apply for opportunities that will help with my studies. Being assertive has been especially helpful for me in applying to study abroad and summer internships.


As a CALI alum, do you think the program prepared you for the Admissions Ambassador role?

The CALI program prepared me for the ambassador program first by showing me how to be a leader, then pushing me out of my comfort zone. The program showed me there are all kinds of leaders. For instance, there are those who are outgoing and energetic. There are some who are quiet and assertive or any other possible combination in between. While all leaders may have different personalities and attributes, they can all contribute something to the community.

The program also taught me how to get out of my comfort zone. Being a timid person, sometimes I find it difficult to speak in front of large groups of people. However, CALI helped me practice my public speaking skills, which allows me, with my quiet yet assertive leadership, to provide prospective students with information and tours that will help them determine whether NYU is the perfect school for them. 

What advice do you have for students who are considering applying to NYU CALI? What would you tell high school Kelci-Brooke?

My advice to students who are considering NYU CALI is to be open to new opportunities. Applying to NYU CALI was one of the best decisions I ever made! Not only did I gain useful knowledge about the application process, I also learned skills that helped me grow as a person. While this one-week program may seem short, you gain a lot of helpful information and resources from the admissions counselors that you can use to assist yourself and others in the college application process. Ever since my time at CALI, I use the information I gained to help my friends, my siblings, and my community with their applications!

Overall, I think NYU CALI is an invaluable program. I recommend all prospective NYU students be open to this opportunity to get to know the University!

A huge thank you to Kelci-Brooke for sharing her journey with us. If you’d like to learn more about NYU CALI, request information here. And for more information on NYU’s precollege programs, join us at an upcoming virtual information session


Camille Wilson is the Associate Director of Strategic Student Communications in the Division of Enrollment Management at NYU. She’s spent the last decade in Higher Education working to nurture and inspire student leaders by supporting their holistic growth and development. When she’s not mentoring college students, she’s helping her readers toast to life’s memorable moments on her blog.