I've always loved Theodore Roosevelt's quote "do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Over time, those words became a driving force in helping me take full advantage of a string of important opportunities.
My educational prospects were jump started when Maureen Yusuf, then Middle School Director of Breakthrough New York, walked into my sixth grade classroom and explained their program--a tuition-free, nonprofit, six-year college access program for low income and minority middle school students. I was only twelve, but I already knew I needed all the help I could get. Breakthrough changed the trajectory of my life.
First, they guided me to the Peddie School, a top-tier boarding school in New Jersey, and helped me secure financial aid and scholarships so I could afford to attend. Then, while at Peddie, I was able to take advantage of a variety of unique opportunities, including spending a summer on scholarship in South India volunteer teaching math, English and hygiene to Muslim girls.
Breakthrough supported me through the daunting college application process, and I matriculated to Goucher College, a private, liberal arts school in Baltimore, Maryland. During my first semester, my father lost his part-time job that he used to pay my tuition at Goucher. At a complete loss, I called Breakthrough, thinking I would have to drop of school and reapply for the next semester. Then, what can only be described as New York magic, took place.
Breakthrough had just been featured in the Wall Street Journal, which was seen by JFEW's Executive Director Elizabeth Leiman Kraiem. JFEW had a special scholarship available, specifically for a woman in need of an emergency educational grant. They contacted Breakthrough, explained the application process--and then I was nominated and awarded the scholarship, which saved my semester and gave me the opportunity to join the JFEW community. The JFEW scholarship gave me the resources I desperately needed, and allowed me to stay in school, finish the semester with a strong GPA, and most importantly, it gave me time to apply to transfer to a more affordable school. I am now attending Binghamton University in the Fall. I am so grateful to the Foundation for their generous gift, and very excited to be a new member of this community!