Stories and insights on excellent education.
Sixteen seniors at Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts have been selected as the first cohort of the SA Ruth and Norman Rales Scholars Program. This new program is a partnership between Success Academy and the Ron Brown Scholar Program, fostered and funded by the Rales Foundation. SA Rales Scholars will receive not only financial support — in the form of a $40,000 scholarship over four years of college — but also personalized support through access to mentors, leadership programming, and career development, made possible through the Ron Brown partnership. The Rales Foundation has committed to support up to 125 SA Rales Scholars over the next five years.
Established in 1996 in memory of the first African American U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Ron Brown Scholar Program brings 25 years of experience in college access and persistence and professional mentorship, as evidenced by a 99% graduation rate for its more than 300 scholars from the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities.
One priority that Lanae holds dear, whether in the science lab or backstage during a theater performance, is giving back to her communities. She consistently finds ways to look out for her younger classmates, such as when she created a top tips video for successfully submitting a college application. Lanae discovered her love for science and math during seventh grade, when she dissected her first animal, and later fed her interest by attending pre-college summer programs at the University of Rochester, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Tulane University. In addition to taking AP courses in world history, macroeconomics, and English literature, Lanae also excelled in math, earning one of the highest grades in her algebra II class. The first in her family to attend college, she is headed to Brandeis University this fall, where she plans to pursue psychology, biology, and neuroscience.
Autumn knows how to successfully step into high-pressure leadership roles, like being the starter for the school’s award-winning 4 x 200-meter and sprint medley relay teams. She always cheers for her teammates, even as she’s handing off the baton; she uplifts others as she pushes herself to excellence. One of SA high school’s highest performing scholars, Autumn took some of the most rigorous courses offered, including AP Biology, biomedical engineering, pathophysiology, and medical microbiology. Born and raised in the South Bronx, she plans to attend Howard University this fall to study at the prestigious College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences. Through the funding she will receive as an SA Rales Scholar, Autumn is excited to be able to attend her dream school.
When Linton started ninth grade, he introduced himself to his teachers as someone wanting to make an impact on the community. With a seriousness of purpose rarely found in high schoolers, he did just that — as a member of the school’s elite track team, a star learner in SA’s most challenging STEM classes, and an active member of the Community Service Club. Linton also guides and tutors his younger siblings when his parents, who are essential workers, need an extra hand. Born in Bolans Village, Antigua and Barbuda, Linton has lived in the Bronx for most of his life. He plans to pursue interdisciplinary interests — mechanical engineering and psychology — at Tufts University next year. The first in his family to attend college, he has his sights set on earning a Ph.D. in engineering.
With an exceptional work ethic and a drive for discovery, Miyu consistently pursues challenges that spark her imagination. She’s one of SA HSLA’s first scholars to enroll in the highly competitive Columbia Edge program, taking calculus II and general physics with the university’s undergraduates while still in high school. Miyu stands out as a caring community builder. She founded Echo A Cappella Club, an entirely student-run choral group in which she writes arrangements and performs in schoolwide concerts. Miyu plans to pursue new and exciting leadership roles at Yale University next year, including in the arts (She aspires to become leader in one of Yale’s famous a capella groups.) and in community service. She is considering a major in psychology so that she can continue to help and support others.
It’s in Jada’s nature to help others. She created a mentor program pairing upperclassmen with incoming freshmen to help them adjust to high school during remote learning. She also co-founded Girls Group, helping to empower young women to speak at school assemblies on gender equality, and was later asked by her school psychologist to start new chapters at SA middle schools. She grew up in NYCHA housing and is a resident advocate, working to build stronger relationships between the building's tenants. She balances all this with a demanding academic course load and near perfect grades. In the fall, Jada will be a first-generation college student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; her goal is to become a registered nurse.
Channel holds one of the highest grade point averages in her class, taking rigorous courses such as AP Chemistry, AP Calculus AB, AP World History, and AP European History. At the same time, she managed and directed the school’s largest student-led production, Root Awakening, which celebrates cultural heritage and the African diaspora. The daughter of immigrant parents from the Domincan Republic, Channel will be the first of her family to go to college. She is unfailingly caring and inclusive, translating information for her parents so that they can be involved in her success. Channel aspires to be a women’s health nurse practitioner and to dismantle healthcare discrimination against minority women.
Kayla is a founding tutor in the student-led “No-Adults Needed” tutoring program, which pairs accomplished and caring high schoolers with younger students. She’s also a confident public speaker, whether telling her story at advocacy rallies, moderating alumni Q&A’s, or serving as a student panelist at the Robertson Center. Kayla was also one of the first students at SA to attend Columbia University’s prestigious Edge program, where she took college courses in statistics and data sciences. She was a cast member of the school’s production of Chicago and a dancer on SA’s competitive dance team. This fall, Kayla will attend Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She plans to major in electrical engineering and eventually pursue a career in politics.
Eve always finds outlets for self-expression, and if one doesn’t exist, she creates it. As a freshman, she founded SA’s chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance to help foster a safe space for her peers. She also helped found the entirely student-run a capella club known as Echo, where she currently serves as vice president. A musical aficionado, Eve volunteers her voice for the Big Apple Chorus to bring joy to others when they need it most. She pursued challenging STEM classes, earning a spot in SA’s STEM Academy and A’s in her college-level biomedical and environmental engineering classes. A first-generation college student, Eve is proud to be on her way to Oberlin College next year, where she will study engineering and business.
Sean’s leadership can be seen throughout the HSLA community. Selected as a teacher’s assistant in his principles of physics class, Sean provided constructive feedback to his peers. As a founding member of the high school’s Musical Theatre Company, Sean charmed audiences, playing lead roles in musicals, including the prince in Cinderella, Kevin Rosario in In the Heights, and Billy Flynn in Chicago. His good-natured confidence won him the elected position of student council representative. A member of SA’s Track & Field team, Sean earned a gold medal in the 4x400-meter relay at the Armory Youth Championships last year. Sean heads to Binghamton University next year as a first-generation college student, where he plans to study either aerospace or mechanical engineering.
Gabriela has wanted to become a pediatrician ever since she was 11. Her caring nature compelled her to take on new responsibilities so her family could stay safe this year. (Many are at high risk for COVID-19.) Gabriela manages to balance family priorities with wide-ranging academic and extracurricular interests. She’s excelled in honors American literature and AP Biology, and she’s acted in multiple school productions. Her academic determination led to continuous improvements in her grades, even in the height of the pandemic; she is now a top STEM scholar. Gabriela will attend Dickinson College this fall, where she will pursue their many hands-on opportunities for pre-health students looking to launch their medical careers.
As the eldest daughter of a single father, Amanda knows the meaning of hard work. In ninth grade, she created her own volunteer “office hours” to tutor her peers in English and math, sharing her sign-up sheet with teachers to invite any interested scholars. She later co-founded the Humanitarian Club, bringing over 20 members together to feed hungry New Yorkers through Meals on Wheels. She also serves as a “College Captain,” supporting classmates through the college counseling process. Amanda is among the most talented writers in her class, distinguishing herself with impressive analytical essays on works such as Othello and Candide. Next fall, she will pursue a major in psychology and minor in either music or sociology at Bowdoin College as a first-generation college student. She eventually wants to earn a master’s degree in education.
Stephanie wants to become a lawyer and eventually a policymaker. Her inspiration comes from firsthand experience of structural inequity. As the child of Ghanian immigrants, she experienced housing insecurity, separated from her parents for a year as they moved back to Ghana to save money. She hopes to reform housing and small business law so that other immigrants might be welcomed to a more supportive America. Stephanie interned for the Manhattan borough president’s office, organizing a community block party and helping field constituent calls. She also served as an intern for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. As a first-generation college student, Stephanie will pursue a major in political science at Barnard College this fall, and looks forward to taking courses on civil rights, civil liberties, and political economics.
Prestina St. Louis
Prestina has made a name for herself as a determined sprinter. When she’s not chasing gold at national track events, she’s excelling as an Honors STEM student. Over the past two years, she’s tutored younger students and was nominated as chief officer of the school’s student-run tutoring program. She wrote her own lesson plans, weaving in current events and social justice issues, believing strongly in the importance of helping younger generations develop educated opinions so they are equipped to create change. While Prestina is passionate about engineering and computer science, she is also a stellar humanities scholar, excelling in AP English Literature & Composition. At Rochester Institute of Technology, Prestina will enroll in an accelerated program that will allow her to graduate in five years with both bachelor’s and master’s engineering degrees.
Born in Ghana, the second oldest of seven siblings, Habiba immigrated to the United States when she was five years old. She is one of SA’s most decorated track and field athletes, competing in national indoor and outdoor tournaments and earning over 30 medals since her freshman year. Habiba achieved excellence in the classroom too, earning A+s in AP Literature, AP Macroeconomics, and Honors engineering. She developed a love for STEM and enrolled in a product design course at Stanford University last summer, developing a scratch-removal product plan for stainless steel surfaces. In the future, Habiba aims to apply her STEM talent to the field of artificial intelligence; in her own words, “STEM is the future of this world, and I plan to run with it.” The first in her family to attend college, Habiba will pursue a degree in engineering from Northeastern University this fall.
While many of SA’s high-achieving upperclassmen tutor students much younger than themselves, Zachary made a name for himself in the school community by offering to teach his older peers advanced coding in his free time. He helped found the school’s Computer Science Club so that anyone else with a passion for coding could join in. Zachary has excelled in a range of subjects outside of the computer lab as well — taking on electrical engineering, AP Calculus AB, and honors American literature — pushing his mastery across disciplines to earn a perfect 4.0 during his junior year. Despite taking on additional family responsibilities throughout the pandemic, Zachary persisted to maintain his grades and successfully navigate the college financial aid and application process. A first-generation college student, he is excited to pursue software engineering at Rice University next year.
In the top 3% of his class, Jason maintains one of the most rigorous class schedules in the high school. During his junior year, Jason took environmental engineering and biomedical engineering, earning A’s. He also studied computer science this year at Columbia University, as part of the university’s selective Edge program. Co-captain of the SA Soccer Team, Jason also played on SA’s highly competitive Network Chess Team. He served as a tutor in a student-run program that pairs high school tutors with sixth graders who needed extra help during remote learning. A first-generation college student, Jason will attend the University of Pennsylvania next year and wants to pursue a career where he can “help the less fortunate, and defend those in need.”