The Ascend Educational Fund’s Selection Committee reviewed over 320 applications, interviewed 20 finalists, and this weekend selected our inaugural class of eight AEF Scholars! Thanks to the generous support of our Advisory Council and other contributors, our eight AEF Scholars will receive a total of $36,000 in scholarship awards, which includes over $9,000 raised through our matching gift drive.
Thank you to everyone who participated—and special thanks to Anne Brennan, Danaus Chang, Arthur Li, Liam O’Neil, Raphael Zagury , and the Alchemy Club, LLC for their generous contributions. All of the time and financial contributions of our donors and supporters are allowing us to significantly improve these young people’s lives.
We are thrilled to share our Scholar’s stories with you:
• A civil rights activist whose parents emigrated from Bangladesh and who will be attending Princeton University in the fall. This Danaus Awesome Achievement Award recipient has spent her teenage years supporting the struggle for human rights and social activism throughout the world by organizing hate-crime rallies, promoting voter rights, and starting a tutorial center in her house for free. Not only has she maintained a 4.0 GPA and is a true leader in her community, she also contributes her earnings from the summer employment program to her parents to assist her family with their basic needs.
• An immigrant from Mexico who is a founding member of a diversity group that promotes tolerance and anti-bullying at her school, and will attend Binghamton University this fall with plans to study Psychology and Education. This El Aguila Perseverance Award recipient dedicates herself to her schoolwork as an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate with a 100 average, while continuing to help her guardians pay the bills by selling ices and cupcakes.
• A young research scientist whose parents emigrated from China and who will be attending the University of California, Davis in the fall. This A+ student has already maxed out the CollegeNow program and has accumulated 13 college credits. His accomplishments include performing at Carnegie Hall, a national ranking in Chess the last three years, and being a member of his high school’s varsity fencing team since his freshman year. Despite his demanding academic and extracurricular schedule, he also plays the role of homemaker in his household: purchasing groceries, making dinners and taking care of his siblings.
• A Mexican immigrant who arrived just four years ago and transitioned from ESL to now taking all her classes in English with an overall grade point average of 89%. She is a varsity soccer player who actively volunteers in her community, from HealthCorps to El Museo del Barrio, and helped to form the Haiti Relief Project with the National Honor Society on her campus. A Skadden mentee, she will attend La Guardia Community College this fall and eventually plans to go to law school and become a lawyer.
• A student devoted to women’s rights and gender equality whose parents emigrated from Guyana, and who will be attending Wellesley College in the fall. Despite her economic and personal struggles, she has maintained an A average at one of the country’s most rigorous high schools. She is a head counselor at Project HAPPY, a sports and recreational program for individuals with disabilities, as well as an advocate for the Asian American youth community with the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families.
• A young woman who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico five years ago, is currently in the top 10% of her class, and earned a 4 on the Advanced Placement English Language & Composition exam, despite being enrolled in ESL classes her freshman year. This Arthur Li Distinguished Rising Star Award is a member of a rigorous college-preparatory program, she is also an alto sax player and volunteers regularly at her church. She will attend CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice this fall and is passionately seeking a career as a criminal detective.
• A women rights advocate whose parents emigrated from St. Kitts and Nevis and who will be attending Bryn Mawr College in the fall. She founded a women’s empowerment group in her school to discuss race, body image, and women’s’ rights. An active member of the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, she maintains an A average and ranks in the top 12% of her graduating class. She is described by her teachers as “A more honest, generous, and determined individual than you will never meet.”
• A young man who immigrated to the U.S from Mexico, maintains a 3.7 GPA at one of New York City’s most competitive high schools, and scored in the 83rd percentile on the SAT mathematics section, all while working as a cook’s assistant, assistant super, and at McDonald’s to help support his family. He is described by his teachers as ”one of the most ambitious, giving, and thirsty for knowledge” students they have ever encountered. He will be attending City College of New York this fall.
Thank you again for supporting us, and assisting us in ‘Elevating our Community through Higher Education’. We have big plans for AEF, and we hope that you will be a part of our growth in the coming years.
AEF Board of Directors
Adrienne, Celeste, Diana, Erika and Julissa