Raul Aguilera, 21, describes his personal college search process as painful. He battled massive information barriers and wasn’t sure where to turn for guidance, he says.
His status as a Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student added an extra layer of difficulty for the South Sioux City, Nebraska, native.
He persevered and ended up at the University of Nebraska at Omaha as a high-achiever and member of the University Honors Program. Aguilera graduated in May, earning a B.S. in Business Administration with an accounting concentration.
“UNO has been a fantastic place to explore and meet various kinds of people,” he says. “The Maverick community has been very supportive of a lot of my quests, including winning the Maverick Business Plan Competition.”
In April, Aguilera and business partners Nathan Novak and Amrit Kandel were part of a group of finalists invited to pitch their budding businesses to a panel of alumni, entrepreneurs and community members at Mammel Hall.
Their winning business, CollegePrep, is a nonprofit fueled by the fundamental belief that every high school student should have access to top-notch college preparatory resources, Aguilera says. “These resources are like oxygen — everyone needs them.”
“These resources are like oxygen — everyone needs them.”
- Raul Aguilera
CollegePrep seeks to remove information barriers for high-potential students so they can go to the college of their choice, he says.
Serving as chief operating officer, Aguilera and his team plan to use the $3,000 in prize money to beta test their products, which include personalized test prep resources and a tutor marketplace.
In a cluttered market, the power of CollegePrep lies in its nonprofit business model as well as personalization and scalability through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.
In addition to the company’s five co-founders, CollegePrep has a sizeable team of volunteer software engineers to help bring this dream to life. The nonprofit has also secured partnerships with two rural educational cooperatives that will beta test the products.
Long term, the team is working to build a comprehensive web-based platform that serves students around the world and accelerates the pace of educational equity.
“We’re very passionate about the impact that this can have,” Aguilera says. “We will do whatever it takes to positively impact the lives of students.”
To learn more, visit www.collegeprep.org.
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