Congratulations to our 2016 Scholars!

Our eight 2016 AEF Scholars embody the diverse immigrant community in New York City and represent China, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Germany, Belize, Ghana, Suriname, and Nigeria.  Take a moment to read each of their extraordinary stories.

About Our 2016 AEF Scholars:

A young woman from Belize, this scholar immigrated to the US when she was 12 years old. Despite being undocumented and thinking she would not be able to attend college, in her own words, she is not letting her circumstances define her. She has kept working and pushing to create a path to higher education.  She scored a four or above on three AP exams and has worked with the Coro New York Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council to design change projects to improve life in New York City.  With her school’s Students for Social Responsibility Club, she raised funds for MetroCards that were awarded to refugees in the Bronx.  She was later invited to speak at the United Nations’ International Day of Peace to highlight the results of their campaign. This Everett Castaneda Scholar plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice or the sciences and will attend Dartmouth College this fall.

A young woman of Turkish and Persian background, this scholar emigrated from Germany at the age of 11. She, along with her family, has struggled through severe hardship and has had to navigate life in three different shelters throughout her time in high school. She has made school her own sanctuary.  She has explored journalism, media and writing at Princeton University’s Summer Journalism Program.  Despite being undocumented, she believes her circumstances have pushed her to search for a better life and carve out her own path.  This Amin Educational Scholar plans to pursue a career as a behavioral analyst with the FBI and will attend CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice this fall.

A young man from Ghana, this scholar immigrated to the US in 2014 at the age of 17 to reunite with his mother, who came to America when he was only a child. Although he has only been in the US for 2 years he has excelled in the classroom and beyond. He was part of the National Honor’s Society, president of the Red Cross Club, founder of the Renewable Energy Club and named student of the month in October 2015 for his positive impact helping other students. He ranked in the top 2% of his graduating class of 790 students.  This scholar plans to pursue a career as a pediatrician and will attend Middlebury College this fall.

A young woman of Curacaoan-Dominican origin, this scholar emigrated from the Netherlands Antilles at the age of 4. Being undocumented has taught her how to navigate obstacles in life while remaining persistent and determined in her pursuit of success. Her determination and hard work earned her multiple awards during her high school career. She was awarded the Quest Bridge Award recognizing top low-income students in the nation. She graduated high school with an almost perfect GPA. Since 2015, she has interned with Harlem Biospace as a research entrepreneur engineer. In addition, she won a Newsies Award which resulted in her article “My History Matters Too” being published in the New York Daily News. This scholar plans to pursue a career as a bioengineer and will enroll at the University of Pennsylvania this fall.

After only 6 years in the US, a Chinese immigrant who spent every day in the library reading books and listening to CD’s to learn the language and graduate in the top of her class. She lent her hard-earned English skills to the next generation by volunteering at a local organization and tutoring other Chinese children free of charge. One of her life goals is to establish tuition free vocational schools for immigrants: allowing them the ability to earn a stable income, have a secure work environment, and contribute to American society. This Alwyn Andrew-Mziray Scholar will attend Northeastern University in the fall and plans to pursue a degree in Finance.

A Chinese American student who found her passion in art and used murals as mediums for promoting social change. She experienced poverty first hand, and sought to find a way to brighten her neighborhood and encourage conversation. The murals she helped bring to life highlighted the rare peaks of nature in the concrete jungles of New York City and the diversity of cultures and beliefs in her community. In her school’s volleyball team, she was transformed and focused on moving forward and having the capacity to change the game. She will attend the University of Southern California in the fall where she will pursue her interest in Computer Science.

A young woman of Nigerian origin, who was born in Italy and experienced racism as a person of color and immigrated to the U.S. 7 years ago. She has taken numerous AP classes and earned the Principal’s Honor Roll.  She is part of the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault where she teaches Black, Hispanic, and South Asian youth about sexual assault. One of her teachers said the following, “She draws lessons from her own personal struggles as an immigrant, first-generation, low-income young black woman in order to demonstrate greater empathy for her peers. She has been able to turn her struggles into strengths through painstaking effort, which illustrates her resilience and tenacity.”  Her career goal is to become an educator so she can increase tolerance, social justice and educational equity. She will attend Brown University in the fall.

A young woman from Suriname, this scholar immigrated to the US when she was 4 years old. Her dedication to her community through the MinKwon Center as well as her efforts at a local food bank is sparked by her relentless desire to better the society around her. A stellar student, this scholar strives to improve access to ESL classes and awareness of other public benefits so that fellow immigrants can continue to improve their lives and give back to the NYC community. This Chris Cornett Scholar plans to pursue a degree in social work and will attend Hunter College this fall.

Congratulations to our 2015 Scholars!

Our nine 2015 AEF Scholars embody the diverse immigrant community in New York City and represent Ecuador, Philippines, Jamaica, Mexico, Guyana, Nigeria, and Peru. Take a moment to read each of their extraordinary stories.

About Our 2015 AEF Scholars:

A Guyanese American student who has made community service a vital part of his life. With Project Happy, he volunteers on Saturdays to assist and mentor children and young adults with disabilities, primarily autism or mobility impairments. He is also a tutor to his peers through the Arista National Honors Society. His family has survived extreme hardship, including domestic violence, poverty, and his mother’s uterine cancer. He will graduate with an Advanced Regents Diploma and expects to attend Williams College in the fall.

A student who immigrated from Mexico and loves mathematics and working with numbers as “the language of pure logic.” Despite facing a number of personal trials, including his stepfather’s recent death and becoming ill during his senior year, he will graduate as Valedictorian of his class. He is a leader of Respect for All, a program that facilitates social injustice discussions with students in the more junior classes of his Bronx community, and he has participated in the Bloomberg Arts Internship and New York University College Access Leadership Institute programs. He plans to attend Skidmore College and major in Mathematics.

A young woman from Peru who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 4. She plans on becoming a doctor, first attending The City College of New York to earn her degree in Biology. She is an exceptionally resilient young woman who has endured great hardship. Her counselor describes her as someone who has navigated difficult home situations and grown from setbacks that would have discouraged other students. She spent many weekdays in high school tutoring 8th grade students in math and science.

A young man of Ecuadorian descent who found his way to the US after moving to Spain at age 2. He has been in the US for the past three years and now lives in the Bronx. Despite his recent move and a new language, this recipient maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school. Realizing that the current educational system can be tough on immigrants, this scholar strives for excellence and hopes to reshape the opportunities available to other immigrant scholars. He is active in the community through organizations like New York Cares and Changing the Odds. He will attend Hunter College this fall and wishes to have a career at the United Nations.

A young man who immigrated from Jamaica and is pursuing his life long dream of becoming a pilot. This recipient will be attending SUNY Farmingdale to study aviation and enroll in flight classes. Bouncing around the foster care system, this student eventually reunited with a family member in the New York City area but ultimately faced homelessness. Despite a tumultuous living situation and a four hour commute to his high school, this scholar had 100% attendance and maintained a 92 grade average. Overcoming all obstacles thrown in his way, this scholar remains optimistic and steady in his pursuit of his aviation dreams.

A young woman who immigrated from the Philippines four years ago and is graduating as Valedictorian of her high school. She received a score of 3 and above on four AP exams. As a student she organized workshops called “myth busters” to inform and teach her classmates accurate information about college, in addition to assisting over 600 students submit their college applications. She will be attending the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York where she will obtain a BS and MD degree in seven years. As a medical doctor she plans to provide quality care at an affordable price, focusing on the immigrant community.

An Ecuadorian young woman that was raised in a single family household faced with critical hardships, such as the inability to meet basic needs of food and housing. She has persevered in the face of adversity and excelled academically by maintaining a 3.9 GPA. Early on in high school, she realized many of her classmates lacked mentors and tutoring, and through her involvement in student council she started a Big Brother/Big Sister Initiative for upperclassmen to mentor and tutor 9th and 10th graders. More than 40 students are currently participating in this initiative, and she hopes to expand the program and involve college student as mentors in the future. She plans to attend Hamilton College this fall.

A young man who moved to New York from a small town in the countryside of Mexico City surrounded by poverty. The town lacked resources and a common reason for an incomplete assignment wasn’t “the dog ate it,” but due to inconsistent electricity. It is in these poor conditions that he found his passion for engineering, with his dream of providing modern infrastructure to his former community. When not participating in soccer for the Downtown United Soccer Club and focusing on his studies, he works as a cashier/stock boy. He will attend the City College of New York where he will major in Computer Engineering.

A young man who immigrated from Nigeria two years ago, to escape war and poverty, with the promise of playing basketball at a high school in North Carolina. After denying him admittance as an international student, he was used only to play basketball. He was then recruited to Georgia, but was falsely enrolled for his junior year (instead of his senior year). While in Georgia, his friend told him about the Covenant House New York, a non-profit that serves as a homeless shelter for young adults, where he currently resides. He will attend Ithaca College and pursue a career in physical therapy.

Thank you for all of your contributions, including your time and financial commitments.

Together, we are enabling these students of exceptional promise and elevating our community through higher education!

2014 AEF Gala Recap

The Ascend Educational Fund hosted our First Annual Gala on Saturday, February 8, 2014. The Gala was a huge success with over 130 people gathered in the Prince George Ballroom in Gramercy. AEF was able to raise over $8,000 from the silent auction alone! While the event set a solid foundation to help us achieve our goal of awarding $50,000 in scholarships in 2014, we still have work to do and your continued support will help us meet our goal. Over 650 applications have been started and we are on pace to receive four times the number of 2013 applications.

Click here for a full gallery of photos from the First Annual Gala. If you post any photos from the Gala, please use our hashtag #aefgala2014

We thank everyone who attended and contributed for helping us to Elevate the American Dream of our current and future Scholars. Without your participation, our First Annual Gala would not have been such a moving and inspirational evening!