Philadelphia Native Uses ‘Fresh Start’ of College to Overcome Bullying

Aracely Lebron (New Foundations Charter/Philadelphia) is a First-Generation College Student at Manor College studying for her Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene.

Aracely Lebron

Manor College’s Dental Hygiene program requires an entrance essay. The prompt showcases a student’s ability to manage pressure in one of Manor’s most rigorous programs. 

The prompt read, “what is one of the toughest challenges that you faced in your life.” Aracely Lebron immediately knew her answer, and the gravity of it wasn’t lost on her. 

Lebron immediately reflected on the bullying she received from classmates since Kindergarten. It started as regular name calling, but soon grew worse. If she put her belongings down while riding the bus, classmates would pick it up and throw it across the bus. They’d step on her bags, or play “monkey in the middle” with her backpack. 

A friend would manipulate her for her homework assignments. The same friend would spread rumors about Lebron throughout the school. 

“Bullying is something that I faced,” Lebron said. “I’d tell my mom not to worry about it, but it got to the point where I became a loner.” 

As she wrote her Dental Hygiene essay, Lebron began to hesitate. She didn’t want to be known on campus as “the one who got bullied.” 

“I didn’t want this school to see what I had to face,” Lebron said. “But ultimately, I wanted them to know more about me.” 

***

Lebron entered Manor College in 2021. The following year she received her acceptance into the Dental Hygiene program. From the minute she stepped on campus, she felt like Manor College was a chance to leave that bullying in the past.

Before she enrolled, Lebron made her deposit at a drive-by event at Manor College. Admissions staff at the event had her sign a “I Am Manor Bound” poster and took her photo. It was a small gesture, but Lebron said it made her feel like Manor was home. 

“When we went, my mom was a mess crying, I was a wreck, but it was so special,” Lebron said. “Creating that sign and having the staff just cheer me on, I knew Manor was right. The slogan at Manor is ‘You Belong Here’ and I wanted to belong here.”

The transformation from shy loner to confident woman are evident in Lebron’s campus life. She became a Presidential Ambassador, is a member of the Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association and serves as the President of Phi Theta Kappa.

Lebron expects to graduate from Manor College in May with her Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene. Her goal is to work as a dental hygienist after school, then go back and become a dentist in the future. 

The actions of Manor College’s community changed her personality. She remembered how Dr. Jessica Zsoldos, Director of Admissions, helped her move into campus and gave her advice. In her first week, a member of the Dining Hall staff showed her how to order food. She leans on her classmates for encouragement when questioning her ability to handle a career in Dental Hygiene. 

“Everything shifted for me once I applied to Manor,” Lebron said. “I wanted to leave that loner phase of my life behind. It was a new start to actually be myself. I love to talk. I love to help out. At Manor, I’m able to do that without my past following me.”

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