100% of New Jersey SEEDS’ College Scholars Graduates to Enroll in College

June 14, 2019 – Newark, NJ –New Jersey SEEDS, a nonprofit providing educational access to high-achieving students from low-income families, celebrated the graduation of its College Scholars Program on Saturday, June 8, 2019.

The 40 high school seniors enrolled in SEEDS’ third class of College Scholars will enroll all in colleges and universities. Eighty-five percent of these students will attend schools ranked Most, Highly or Very Competitive, according to Barron’s. This class received more than 130 acceptances from 51 colleges and universities.

Students graduating from the College Scholars Program have spent the past 17 months in academic classes with SEEDS each Saturday during the school year and for three weeks last summer on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. During that time, students worked closely with SEEDS on test preparation, personal statement writing, college research, college applications, financial aid literacy, and mastering skills that will make them successful in college and beyond.

At Saturday’s ceremony, John F. Castano, New Jersey SEEDS’ Executive Director, shared his advice with graduating seniors. “You have worked so hard on Saturdays and summers and made sacrifices to get to a different place with a different view, new people, new experiences and new excitements. I want you to enjoy that perspective. If you had had your head down during the past 17 months, think of all the things you might have missed. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Be proud. See the people who are around you, and speak to them. When necessary, speak for them. You were seen, and look how much your life has changed.”

In order to apply for the College Scholars Program, students must reside in New Jersey, attend an eligible College Scholars high school, be in the top 10 percent of their class, be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and meet SEEDS’ financial requirements. This year’s College Scholars class will graduate from 19 different high schools from 15 cities across five counties in New Jersey. The average annual income for a family in the College Scholars Class of 2019 is $33,581.

The College Scholars Class of 2019 Commencement Ceremony was held at Montclair State University with more than 150 family members and friends in attendance. Guests first heard from Michael Fletcher (SEEDS ’95), the morning’s Commencement Speaker. Jose Melendez (College Scholars ’19, Hackensack High School ’19, University of Michigan ’23) then shared his SEEDS story with guests. (View commencement photos.)

In addition to a formal presentation of diplomas, several students also received special awards in recognition of their accomplishments.

  • Matthew Atehortua and Nicole Huie were presented with New Jersey SEEDS Academic Achievement Awards because of their academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
  • Dorithy Barnieh was named the Edward and Barbara Becker Scholar for her outstanding academic achievement and exemplary work done while participating in New Jersey SEEDS.
  • Justen George was presented with the Dean’s Award for overall achievement, strong positive character, leadership, great citizenship, exceptional academic qualities and terrific personality.
  • Jose Melendez was named the Lee Brenner Scholar for his exceptional achievements while enrolled in the College Scholars Program.

Congratulations to the New Jersey SEEDS College Scholars Class of 2019!

  • Maymunah Ahmed (Orange High School) – Union College
  • Matthew Atehortua (East Side High School) – Washington University in St. Louis
  • Ashly Avila (East Side High School) – University of Richmond
  • Dorithy Barnieh (Bard High School Early College) – Smith College
  • Melissa Caballe (North Bergen High School) – Montclair State University
  • Mona Jhanes Doronila (Rahway High School) – College of the Holy Cross
  • Raven Justin Ducut (Hackensack High School) – Colgate University
  • Ahmed Elgazzar (Hackensack High School) – Colgate University
  • Louri Ann Foster (Orange High School) – American University
  • Ana Freitas (Harrison High School) – Rutgers University
  • Sheyla Garcia (Rosa Parks Arts High School) – Albright College
  • Justen George (Innovation High School) – Union College
  • Yadary Gutierrez (North Bergen High School) – College of the Holy Cross
  • Nicole Huie (Hackensack High School) – Boston College
  • Kevorc Ibrahimian (Hackensack High School) – University of Richmond
  • Riyakumari Jain (North Bergen High School) – Seton Hall University
  • Adrian Karwowski (Bayonne High School) – Brandeis University
  • Nataly Lawand (Hillside High School) – Davidson College
  • Keren Lebron (Rahway High School) – Wesleyan University
  • Nathalie Londono (Alexander Hamilton Preparatory High School) – Rutgers University
  • Jessmary Lora (Rahway High School) – Rutgers University
  • Jherlyn Luzuriaga (Technology High School) – Lehigh University
  • Karine Marculino (Technology High School) – Lehigh University
  • Jose Melendez (Hackensack High School) – University of Michigan
  • Alexsas Misoka (Liberty High School) – University of Richmond
  • Fiona Mondestin (East Orange Campus High School) – Rutgers University
  • Alburquerqui Monegro, Jr. (Union City High School) – Rutgers University
  • Jorge Moreno (Harrison High School) – Seton Hall University
  • Oluwasesan Ogunkoya (John E. Dwyer Technology Academy) – University of Richmond
  • Christie Ortega (Technology High School) – Lehigh University
  • Jamie-Ann Palmer (Belleville High School) – Barnard College
  • Luis Remache (Hackensack High School) – Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Maria Rivera (Technology High School) – Muhlenberg College
  • Taylor Robinson (Rosa Parks Arts High School) – William Paterson University of New Jersey
  • Shirley Robles (Union City High School) – American University
  • Hakeem Salguero Bozoglu (Technology High School) – Rutgers University, Newark
  • Victoria Salvatore (Rahway High School) – University of Pittsburgh
  • Riya Shrestha (William Dickinson High School) – Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Nafeesa Webb-Newton (Hillside High School) – Davidson College
  • Izabell Wilk (Rahway High School) – Drew University

For high resolution graduation photos or video from the event, please contact Theresa Murray at [email protected] or at 862.227.9145.

For more than 25 years, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. Since SEEDS’ founding in 1992, more than 2,600 scholars have graduated from its programs. For more information, visit www.seedsaccess.org.