Season’s Greetings from Northeastern and the Torch Scholars Program!

 

All of us in the Opportunity Scholarship Office wish you the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year! We hope you enjoy this update on a few of our Scholars. Thank you so much for all of your support for Torch!

 

Damian Lee, Torch 13 from Lake City, South Carolina, who recently attended a conference with funding support from donors to the Torch Alumni Fund

 

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 15th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair, a three-day event held at Columbia University School of Law located in New York, NY. There, I participated in law school tours and visited universities such as Fordham, Brooklyn University, St. John University, Columbia University, and New York University. I listened to influential speakers including law school students, practicing attorneys, and deans of law schools from across the country.

 

“One of my favorite quotes from the speaker series was, “As attorneys, you are made into professional problem solvers to cure society’s ills.” This quote speaks volumes to the importance of such a profession in our society. Prior to attending the conference, I have always questioned whether I should pursue a career in law due to the negative connotations associated with the profession. However, in hearing those words, it reaffirmed my reason for wanting to pursue such a career; (1) to find my voice, (2) to become a voice for those who are voiceless, (3) to spearhead disparities, and (4) reconstruct the justice system. Those words rewrote the misconstrued definition of an attorney and their impact on society. With my aspirations to become a civil rights attorney, this event was an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge, build connections, and network with students and professionals.”

 

Tyreke Gaston, Torch 13 from Baltimore, Maryland, and is majoring in Cognitive Psychology

 

Tyreke is a leader; he has taken the Torch call to be a campus game-changer to heart. This November, he was one of two students leading the planning for Northeastern’s inaugural First-Generation Student Celebration Day, a national event. He also serves as a program assistant in the Center for Intercultural Engagement and the Social Justice Resource Center. Over the past year, Tyreke also attended Stanford University’s FLI (First-generation and/or Low-Income) Conference, a three-day program intended to cultivate a space for first-generation and/or low-income students to feel empowered in their intersectional identities. He also participated in Northeastern’s EMPOWER Retreat, a two-day retreat for students of color, focused on issues of social change. In the fall of 2020, Tyreke will be headed to his first co-op experience. We have no doubt that he will continue to hone his leadership skills and impress his co-op employer in the new year. He is interested in going on to graduate studies focused on treatment of mental health disorders.

 

Torch Alternative Spring Break

 

This year, through a generous donation to the Torch Program through the Denise DiCenso Transformational Experience Fund, five scholars traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles to meet with middle and high school students to talk about college. Lauren Boudreaux, Torch 12, Alec Lee and Tyreke Gaston, Torch 13, Ralph Karnuah, Torch 9, and Cameron McCartney, Torch 11, shared their stories of navigating the college admissions process and finding success in college as first-generation students.

 

The process of learning to share their stories of successes and struggles with younger students was transformational for the Torch Scholars. One scholar wrote “speaking with the students gave me a new sense of purpose. Hearing [the students] share their aspirations, as well as listening to the stories of my peers, reminded me of what I wanted college to be for me. It gave me a new drive to take my experience by the reins and take full control of my future.”

 

The feedback we received from the schools included statements like:

 

From school staff:

 

“We’ve had several follow up conversations about how excited our students are and how hard they have to work to get to college.”

 

“I’m so thankful that now more of our students can imagine themselves succeeding outside of LA and see what’s out there for them in the world.”

 

From the students:

 

“Their personal experiences were very relatable, especially having to leave home to pursue their dreams despite all the responsibilities at home.”

 

“Sharing struggles was great. Hearing about hardships was insightful. College isn’t always easy.”

 

“If you guys can succeed in college, so can I!”

 

For our third alternative spring break trip, we will be heading to Nevada to talk to students in schools with a high population of potential Torch Scholars, talking with students from low-income backgrounds who will be the first in their family to attend college. There are four students going this year, and I look forward to learning about them, from them and seeing the impact they will make on younger students.

 

 

Ralph, Alec, Lauren, Cameron and Tyreke in the classroom talking with middle school students in Oakland, CA.

 

 

 

 

 

On the stage at a school assembly in LA.

 

 

 

 

A mural whose picture and message we loved, after our conversation with students.