Meet the Students

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Class of 2015

Abdul 

Intended major:

International Affairs/Human Services

Hometown/high school:

Staten Island, New York/ Susan E. Warner High School

 

Abdul, a native of Staten Island, New York, brings his “exemplary leadership skills, critical mind, and dedication to self-improvement” to the Torch Scholars Program. While still in middle school, Abdul began work on his non-profit organization called the Gates Campaign to mandate safety gates on multiple dwelling apartments in New York State. As Founder of the Gates Campaign, Abdul regularly meets with New York politicians, fundraises for his cause, and writes legislation to promote positive change in his community. He recently completed a humanitarian relief effort to send supplies to Liberia. His high school involvement includes internships with a New York City councilmember and National Park Service, along with leadership roles in the Debate/Speech and African American clubs. “Abdul has widened his world view by visiting Peru, Brazil, and the Czech Republic to perform community service…he is no doubt someone who will make headlines in the future for the right reasons.” Known for his drive and discipline, Adbul attributes his success to honesty and respect, and writes, “Through my work I realized I had a passion to help others, a passion for getting involved in my community and beyond.”

 

Carlos 

Intended major:

Pyschology

Hometown/high school:

Washington, D.C. / Georgetown Day School

 

Carlos hails from Washington, D.C., where he played Varsity Basketball and studied jazz, hip-hop, ballet, and modern dance with the Fata Morgana Dance Company.  In addition to interning for the Department of Homeland Security, Carlos mentored young children in D.C. public schools and led classes on social activism. Noted for enriching his school culture through leadership, Carlos also represented his school at the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference in New Orleans and at conferences in the Capital. Carlos’s Torch Nominator calls him a “one-man morale booster,” and his jovial personality has encouraged his family through difficult situations. His Nominator notes that he has “faced challenges at school and in his personal life that could make many adults question who they are and if they have the strength to keep moving forward, yet Carlos never looks back.” In his essay, Carlos writes of his strong will and faith as a factor in his success: “With all these hardships I would not have been able to make it through without my faith, and I think these experiences have made me a stronger, better, and a more equipped person.”

Emani 

Intended major:

Political Science

Hometown/high school:

New York / Riverdale Country School

 

Entering Torch from Bronxville in New York City, Emani  is recognized for her leadership as co-president of multiple organizations and for her role of creating a support system for students of color at her high school through the Black Student Alliance. Emani takes the power of mentoring seriously; she has experienced its effects firsthand through Jeter’s Leaders, a program created by Derek Jeter to promote positive urban youth development and is now a Jeter’s Leaders Board Member. Her Torch Nominator remarks how Emani “has a special skill to bring people together and have them work for a common cause…Because Emani is such a positive, can-do person, she has an infectious way of bringing people together in a positive way.” She is known as a valued teammate both in the community and on the lacrosse field. As head intern for Resources in Independent School Education, Emani researched retention strategies. Emani credits her parents’ struggle as a motivator for success and views her academic success as “a social obligation” and “an opportunity to help educate and inform others.” Emani writes that her “passion for helping others keeps me an active part of the solution every day.”

 

Nohemi 

 

Intended major:

International Affairs and Spanish

Hometown/high school:

Santa Ana, CA / St. Margaret's Episcopal School

 

 

Born and raised in California, Nohemi attended her high school through A Better Chance (ABC), a national program that brings deserving youth to high performing schools for a better education. Nohemi’s parents, community activists who immigrated to America from Mexico, taught Nohemi the value of service through their non-profit that serves families in Mexico. Nohemi developed her motivation for college through cultural adversity and her refusal to give in to negative stereotypes. Her Torch nominator writes, “Growing up in this close family, Nohemi has learned that success comes from hard work, and she has applied herself academically in order to get the most she possibly can from her educational opportunities. She is a proud, young woman who has been raised to hold her head up high and stand up for her community and for what is right.” In addition to raising scholarship funds for students in Mexico, Nohemi is a class representative, tutor and is also known as the “den mother” for other Tartan scholarship students in her school. She writes, “My first year in high school I was in a whole new world, a world where I was in the lowest minority, and this is where I really solidified my value. When I am at my breaking point, I remember the big picture: having Hispanic participation in college be higher.”

 

 

Sally 

Intended major:

International Business

Hometown/high school:

Dorchester, Massachusetts/ Charlestown High School

 

Sally, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, joins Torch from Boston Public Schools. Sally is known for her work ethic and for her resiliency. Her Torch Nominator writes, “She has never had it easy, but she never gives up. Sally is responsible for creating a culture of excellence and high aspirations among her peers.” As an interpreter in high school, Sally stayed connected to Boston’s Vietnamese community, and she provided service throughout the City with the student group Asian Students In Action. Her drive to succeed in a Business career landed her an internship in high school with Liberty Mutual, a position that she has maintained for two years. After losing her mother in high school, Sally became head of her household. After almost giving up on her education, Sally learned to view her family responsibility as her motivation.to succeed: “In one short year, I went from being an average teenager to being essentially a parent…I realized I couldn’t continue pitying myself and feeling sad all the time- I had to change!...I just smile and keep moving along.”

 

 

Susandi 

Intended major:

Biology

Hometown/high school:

Flushing, NY / Newcomers High School

 

Susandi hails from Flushing, New York in New York City, where she attended a high school that served the diverse needs of an immigrant student population and thrived as a student leader. In addition to being a member of Spoken Word Workshop in New York and Senator of her Student Government, Susandi participated in the Big Brother Big Sister Program with a mentor from MetLife. Susandi moved to the U.S. four years ago from war-torn Burma in Cambodia, without knowing a word of English and unaware of American culture. She was forced to learn quickly and become responsible for her family of five siblings. “My Pocket dictionary and hand gestures helped me to tell the police about our problems…even though I did not realize it at the time, it was my very first step in taking responsibility and being in charge of my family.” In charge of household needs and in her role as teacher/advocate for her family, Susandi is a role model and recognized for her tenacity, hope, and gratitude for a new life. Her Torch nominator writes, “Susandi is a standout young woman…who has the ability to see and understand things from another person’s perspective.”  Evident in Susandi’s grace under pressure is also her gratitude for opportunity, as seen in her thank you  note to Torch staff: “Thank you for giving a chance to the girl from Cambodia.” 

 

 

Tyrene 

Intended major:

Criminal Justice with a minor in Art

Hometown/high school:

New York, NY / Notre Dame School

 

Tyrene hails from New York, New York, where she is an active member in her community through the Catholic Big Brother Big Sister, Cabrini Medical Center, NY Eye & Ear Infirmary, and peer tutoring at Henry Street Settlement. A participant in the Gilder Lehrman American History Program on Saturdays and Columbia University’s Double Discover Program during the week, Tyrene sought out opportunity to help build her leadership and academic skills in addition to working 30 hours a week. Earning over 400 hours of community service in just one year, Tyrene is recognized for being a team player both inside the classroom and in the community. Her Nominator calls on Tyrene’s strength and personal resolve as indicators of her success. “She has not used this adversity as an excuse to fall in her studies…This takes inner resolve that is difficult to fathom…She wills herself to do well.” Tyrene finds motivation and a safe haven in school, writing in her essay, “Often, I felt worthless because I couldn’t bring back my mother’s health and provide us with a safe place to live…By working hard in school, I could make my life better. School offered me a sense of stability and pride. Both God and school became my best friends.” Tyrene acknowledges that she learned gratitude and appreciation through her experiences with adversity. Despite all odds, she has persevered, stating, “My motivation as a student comes from within; failure is not an option.”

 

Umar 

Intended major:

Business

Hometown/high school:

Philadelphia, PA / Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School

 

Entering Torch from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Umar is known for his skills as a motivational speaker, student ambassador, youth advocate, and  for “his ability to create a strong group dynamic as a leader, leading by example with his compassion for others.” When not traveling with the national Summer Search Program to China or Tibet, Umar can be found in his community making public service announcements to bring awareness to social issues such as homelessness, as well as at his church, building a positive community. As a Summer Search student ambassador and leadership council member, Umar is adept at self-reflection and pushing himself beyond his comfort zone. His Torch Nominator writes, “Umar is the man of the house, taking care of his younger brother and sister, and creating a new path for himself as a successful male role model.” Umar acknowledges that he lacked successful role models and courage to develop his own successes. He cites his own struggle as his motivation. “Challenges will continue to come at me and overcoming them is what makes me the person I am…the only way I will be able to have choices is if I created opportunities for myself.”