Among the vast selection of picture books in the Reading Partners Library at PS 3 is Margaree King Miller’s Granddaddy’s Gift. Miller’s book tells the story of a young black girl, Little Joe, growing up in Mississippi during the 1960s.READ MORE
My mother was very on top of my college application and financial aid processes. I didn’t have to do much more than log into my student portal and accept my financial aid package each year. READ MORE
Remember the days of working on group projects in school? If you’re like me, you might have felt like no one had any idea what his or her role was. You might have even gotten stuck doing all of the work because you were worried that no one else would take responsibility or were afraid to ask for help. Maybe you came to dread group projects. Nowadays, does your professional life ever feel like that?READ MORE
“Hi, my name is Tristan. I’m going to be one of your Junior Coaches today.” When I spent a day on the recess yard at the Trotter Innovation K-8 School the other day, all of the Junior Coach 5th grade leaders were helpful. They came out pretty much on time for their recess shifts, helped get the first graders playing kickball and running relay races, and helped set up the volleyball net. But Junior Coach Tristan stuck out ahead of the rest.READ MORE
Long before entering college, I began developing my interest in the environment through my first passion: Books. I consumed books on all sorts of environmental issues, from factory farms to mountaintop removal, shaping my decision to pursue a BA in Literature and minor in Environmental Studies.
Last Spring I worked with a group of twelfth-grade students on a project aimed at exploring the environmental impacts and opportunities of an upcoming park space coming to the neighborhood around their school. The goal of this workshop was to investigate relevant issues through art-making.
I have never been a fan of phone calls.
My childhood anxiety around the idea of picking up the phone and dialing family members or girls I liked only increased as texting grew popular and threw the original form of communication out into the retro dump of futility.
So when one of the high school seniors I was working with called my cell phone, I was scared. Had she already heard bad news from one of her early action schools? Did I forget to mention a scholarship deadline? What potential maelstrom had befallen us?
Instead she announced through tear-filled elation that she had received the Posse Scholarship, a full-tuition ride that also served as a gateway to a “posse” of other students attending the same school that would stay with her as she traversed her four years of higher education. Moreover, this scholarship was to Brandeis University, a strong academic institution and one she had been eyeing throughout the college process.
Though I was undoubtedly proud of her incredible accomplishment, what made me the most emotional was the fact that she continued to thank me, as if I were the one who made the decision or carried the brunt of the work. I responded with incredulity, pushing the onus back on her and congratulating her again and again for the incredible journey ahead of her. But what this interaction cemented for me was the impact moments like these—and the journeys required to get there—have on our students.
It comes as no surprise that getting to college can prove to be extremely hard for the population of students we serve; the combination of institutionally-driven restrictions, financial burdens, and implicit feelings of mediocrity causes many young scholars to falter and doubt their potential. As a first-generation man of color from an underserved community in Los Angeles, I have felt these uncertainties creep up at the most inopportune moments. Without reassurance from trusted sources, these suspicions can derail and destroy students’ paths to successes.
This is the reason I came Breakthrough New York as an FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow in the first place—to allow the fresh ideas of our next generation of leaders to flourish and mature as they traverse an environment that sometimes seeks to reject or stifle. To be completely transparent, this job can be difficult sometimes; serving students of all needs demands an attention to detail and a perseverance that can sometimes be exhausting. But when you get to witness moments like these, feel the emotions shine through with every letter of admission or internship acceptance, any doubt or frustration once had fades away.
It’s why I do what I do. And it’s why even when I feel my heart flutter, when a student calls, I pick up the phone.
Joseph Rosales is the FAO Schwarz Fellow and High School Coordinator for Breakthrough New York, a college success program that works with high-achieving, underserved students from across New York City. Using his own experiences as a first-gen student of color, he supports high school students in any way they need in an effort to help prepare them for the educational road ahead.