through the college application process.
“I told him he could do this,” Youn-
gentob, 57, of Bethesda, recalls. “I try to
emphasize to students that college is an
opportunity to change the trajectory of
Youngentob helped the teen complete
applications and financial aid forms,
and drove him to Goucher College in
Towson for a visit after he was accepted.
“She gave so much of her time and went
out of her way for me,” says Rodriguez,
who is now a sophomore on a full schol-
arship at the private college, where he
also gives tours to prospective students.
“It’s because of her I’m here today.”
Rodriguez is one of dozens of
students Youngentob has mentored
over the past decade, most of whom are
first-generation Americans and the first
in their families to go to college. Along
with advice, she provides students with
du;el bags to pack for college visits,
access to printers that they lack at home,
introductions to her personal network
and a promise to answer her cellphone
at any hour. Still, she insists her e;orts
are nothing out of the ordinary.
“;ese kids deserved that. I didn’t see
any other option,” says Youngentob, who
was helping other students even as she
was taking her own three daughters on
college tours. “Why did my kids get to
go, but theirs didn’t because they can’t COUR
AT FIRST, BRANDON RODRIGUEZ didn’t think college was for him. “I felt like I would be a fish in a shark tank—not knowing anything, not know- ing anyone, not knowing what to do,”
says the 19-year-old son of Salvadoran
parents who didn’t finish high school.
All of that changed after Rodriguez
met Linda Youngentob when he was
a senior at Watkins Mill High School
in Gaithersburg. She saw his potential
while helping him navigate the college search process as a volunteer with
CollegeTracks, a local nonprofit that
guides county students at Watkins
Mill, Quince Orchard, Wheaton and
Bethesda-Chevy Chase high schools
Linda Youngentob with her husband, Bob, and
daughters (from left) Lisa, Jamie and Casey,
at Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals in June.