Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun hosted a recep­tion Wednesday for Boston scholars who will be freshmen at North­eastern this fall, including stu­dents enrolled in an inno­v­a­tive, new schol­ar­ship pro­gram for recent high-​​school grad­u­ates and GED recipients.

During the cel­e­bra­tion at the Curry Stu­dent Center, Aoun and Menino offered encour­age­ment to those in the first class of the Foun­da­tion Year Pro­gram, which offers rig­orous aca­d­emic and career prepa­ra­tion, as well as tutoring, men­toring and social net­working to 40 students.

Describing North­eastern as the “city’s uni­ver­sity,” Menino lauded the insti­tu­tion for enrolling more stu­dents from Boston’s public schools than any other university.

This uni­ver­sity is going places,” Menino said, noting that it is Pres­i­dent Aoun’s visionary lead­er­ship that has set the school on course to be an inter­na­tion­ally known research insti­tu­tion that also keeps a door open for city youth in need of a chance at higher education.

Menino reminded the stu­dents to keep on track. “If someone says there’s a party on Friday night, but you have a paper to do, don’t go,” said the mayor. “Do your paper!”

Every kid in our Boston public schools has the poten­tial to be any­thing they want to be,” he added.

Aoun described Menino as the “edu­ca­tion mayor” and cred­ited him with the vision to pilot the Foun­da­tion Year Program.

Philomena Man­tella, senior vice pres­i­dent for enroll­ment man­age­ment and stu­dent affairs, wel­comed the new scholars, saying, “You are at a great uni­ver­sity. You have a great oppor­tu­nity, so make the most of it!”

Stu­dents enrolled in other sig­na­ture schol­ar­ship programs—including Bal­four Academy Scholars, Boston Housing Authority Scholars, Boston Public High School Scholars, National Merit Final­ists, Torch Scholars and Ujima Scholars—joined the new Foun­da­tion Year Scholars at the cel­e­bra­tory event.

Lil­liam Rivera, of the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Sci­ence, a res­i­dent of Mat­tapan, said she was thrilled to par­tic­i­pate in Foun­da­tion Year. “It helped me so much. I don’t think I could have come to North­eastern without it, because I would have to take out a lot of loans,” Rivera said.

As the first member of her family to go to col­lege, she said she plans to make them proud and reach for every oppor­tu­nity afforded her.

Mis­sion High School grad­uate Wilson Mon­teiro, another Foun­da­tion Year Scholar, and his mother Gra­ciete, said the oppor­tu­nity meant a lot to them both.

This is a chance for me to be enrolled in a great school and it pre­pares me for the chal­lenges ahead,” Wilson said. His mother added, “It means a lot to me to see my son, who has grown up in Rox­bury, go on to college.”

The mem­bers of the third class of Torch Scholars, an inno­v­a­tive pro­gram open to stu­dents all over the country who have over­come excep­tional chal­lenges and who demon­strate high aca­d­emic poten­tial, were equally excited to join the North­eastern family.

Boston Latin Academy senior Vladimir Guer­rier said he looks for­ward to meeting new people, and buck­ling down to study accounting, a long-​​held career goal.

Sarah Blanchette of Boston’s Odyssey High School, also a Torch Scholar, said she couldn’t wait to tackle her jour­nalism classes. “I don’t think I could have come to North­eastern without this schol­ar­ship,” she said.