Pomp & Circumstance Reigns Supreme at the Time Warner Building
High school seniors from Ann Tisch’s Young Women’s Leadership Schools and partner schools from the CollegeBound Initiative (CBI) cheered and crowded the Allen Room at the Time Warner building while hundreds applauded.
In magnificent red robes, the girls spoke about the trials and tribulations of their lives and how their college advisors had made all the difference in the world, encouraging and helping them to get into prestigious colleges.
Several students were interviewed by Education Update at the moving ceremony. Estela Castilla is in 10th grade at The Young Women’s Leadership School (TWYLS) of Brooklyn and is interested in psychology and dreams of helping with children with ADHD. “It helped me that there was somebody there to guide me and tell me what to do, so that I knew what I could do in order to help myself,” she said of her counselor.
Collette Woolcock in 10th grade at TYWLS of Brooklyn said she was interested in teaching math, perhaps at the middle school-level.
Kimani Jenkins is entering Buffalo University in the fall. “I have parents who didn’t really know what the college process was like so I depended a lot on my CBI counselor. I was there every day, every Saturday, filling out applications and doing supplements and filling out resumes.”
Ruby Figueroa who is a senior at TWYLS in East Harlem is University of Rochester-bound. “I’m definitely thankful for CBI. They’re definitely the reason why I’m going to college, and I’m so excited … I hope to be a biomedical engineer … I started thinking about college in 9th grade [after entering TWYLS]. As soon as you walk in the hallways of TWYLS the college atmosphere is there. You know that there’s a possibility of college, you know that college actually exists in your future, and they make it so possible for you to dream about going to college. They make it possible for you not to think about what’s back at home, what’s on the streets. You walk into TWYLS and it’s like I need to work hard and then I’ll get to college. It’s not a maybe, it’s a definite, when you walk into TWYLS.”
Ann Tisch took center stage as a proud ‘mother’ and mentor of all of these students. Speaking to the hundreds in the audience, she stated, “If you need any convincing that education is still the great equalizer in this country, you’ve come to the right place … CBI is the program that levels the playing field. Just as affluent families spend thousands of dollars on college advice, CBI provides the same service to inner-city students. We hire and put full-time, connected, well-trained college guidance counselors in schools, and at some schools CBI counselors even work with the little kids, as early as 11 years old — so that they get turned on very young to the idea of college. We know the presence of CBI has a strong ripple effect that can build schools into cultures of success. We believe that college guidance is one part of public education that’s fixable, and that CBI is the best and most effective program in New York City.”
Honorees of the evening were: The Bezos Family Foundation, accepted by President Jackie Bezos, said of Ann Tisch, “In creating the Young Women’s Leadership Network she invested in students with the least access to resources and support and gave them a platform to imagine, and then grasp their potential to become learners and leaders.”
Bayo Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, stated that “this is an incredible organization that’s doing exceptionally important work.”
Skidmore College was also honored for its commitment to educational access for underrepresented students, and was represented by Mary Lou Bates, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid.
By the end of the program, everyone was in tears. The girls all expressed their joy when their letters of acceptance arrived. They were the first-generation college students in their families. As a final gesture of support, the entire audience shouted out “Accepted! Hurray!” #