Dissatisfied with How Her City is Portrayed, York College Student Wants to Tell the Story Herself
Rayven Dickson ’24 is invested in her community. She wants to help others see the good that she sees.
When Rayven Dickson ’24 watches the news, she doesn’t see a full picture of the city where she grew up. She sees coverage of crime and fire, but not the good parts of York. “They don’t look at how the community comes together,” she says.
Dickson wants to tell her own story—and the stories of people like her. She hopes to get there with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Criminal Justice from York College of Pennsylvania.
Talking, for the greater good
It’s kind of a joke in her family. “Talking, that’s always been a hobby of mine,” Dickson says. She wants to put all that talking to good use, maybe on-camera for CNN. “I want to be able to be a voice for people who can’t use their own or people who aren’t listened to or are ignored,” she says.
She knows what it’s like to feel like the news is getting it wrong, and she wants to get it right. As a HOPE Scholar, Dickson works with 6th-8th graders from the York City School District. Every few weeks, kids from her neighborhood come to campus to talk, learn some leadership and life skills, and even go to the dining hall.
It’s something positive for the kids to do after school—and for Dickson it’s fulfilling to give them an experience that wasn’t available when she was a kid. “I grew up here. I’m from here,” she says. “I know that there’s a lot of potential that isn’t always used.”
The York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP) is the biggest reason Dickson chose York College. The program, open to students in the York City School District, covers her tuition in full, plus room and board. It’s one more way York College is reinvesting in York.
YCCOSP has provided Dickson the opportunity while giving her a sense of community and a solid support system at York College. “It’s like a second family from the one I have back at home,” she says.
They give back to the community through volunteer work like serving Thanksgiving dinner to those in need, partnering with the United Way of York County, even digging up and planting a new flower bed. For Dickson, it’s not enough to better herself. “I want to make sure that York is better for everyone,” she says.
As the secretary of the YCP Feminist Club, she’s trying to do just that. The mission of the newly formed club is to work toward equality for everyone. “Everyone deserves to have equal rights and to be heard,” she says.
Knowing when to ask for help
Though she’s found her way, it hasn’t always been easy for Dickson. She struggled a lot in high school when she was diagnosed with manic depression. But, she’s gotten better at recognizing what she needs and when to ask for help.
Last semester she found that help from her friends in YCCOSP and from York College Counseling Services. Having someone to talk to who wasn’t family, but who understood what she was going through was exactly what she needed. She also found support in her family, boyfriend, and best friend. “It was very beneficial for me,” she says. “I’m 100% for people focusing on mental health.”
Lifting others up with her
Dickson wants to be able to tell her own story, to help paint a broader picture of the city where she’s lived her whole life. But, she also wants to help tell other people’s stories.
She wants people to know that “inner-city” isn’t a dirty word. That there are great people and great communities—if you only take the time to look. “It’s about lifting people up together,” she says.
That sentiment drives Dickson in everything she does. So, whether it’s volunteering at York College or giving voice to the voiceless on CNN someday, you can bet she’ll leave a trail of people and communities made better in her wake.
York College supports students as they work to turn career dreams into reality. Some 99% of new, full-time students receive financial assistance or scholarships. A variety of scholarships and grants are available, based on both merit and financial need.