New Jersey SEEDS Congratulates Graduates in College Preparatory Program Class of 2017

June 7, 2017 – Newark, NJ – New Jersey SEEDS, a nonprofit that provides educational access to high-achieving, low-income students, celebrated the graduation of the College Preparatory Program (CPP) Class of 2017 on Monday, June 5, 2017.

The 24 scholars – primarily from Orange and Trenton, New Jersey – received nearly 100 acceptances from more than 40 colleges and universities across the country, including: University of Pennsylvania, American College, Colgate University, New York University, Skidmore College, Spelman College and Washington & Jefferson College.

Graduates have participated in SEEDS’ free College Preparatory Program for the past three years. Scholars took part in academic classes each Saturday during their sophomore, junior and senior years, honing mathematics, critical reading and writing skills. Students also took part in ACT preparation provided by SEEDS and received college admissions guidance including college tours, personal statement revisions, and information on fly-in weekends. In addition to Saturday courses, students spent two weeks during each summer on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

“One hundred percent of these students will be enrolling at some of the nation’s top institutions in the fall,” says John F. Castano, Executive Director of NJ SEEDS. “Their dedication to their educations is exemplary and SEEDS is so proud of all they have accomplished – and all we know they will continue to accomplish in college and beyond.”

The CPP Class of 2017 with Programs Officer Seth Moncrease, Executive Director John F. Castano and Dean of Programs Imani Gilliam.

The CPP Class of 2017 Graduation Ceremony was held at Galloping Hill Caterers (Union), where more than 100 family members, friends, mentors, donors, guests and SEEDS Trustees came out to honor this year’s graduates. In addition to Commencement Remarks from John F. Castano and Kayla Noel (CPP ’17, University of Pennsylvania ’21), several students received special awards in recognition of their accomplishments:

  • Nalia Muhammad (Trenton Central High School) received the Academic Achievement Award for her outstanding academic and extracurricular accomplishments while enrolled in CPP.
  • Dinah Beckford (Orange High School) received the Dean’s Award for her overall achievement, character, and citizenship.
  • Trishann Rice (Trenton Central High School) received the Commitment Award for her dedication and commitment to SEEDS.

“It has been an honor to work with such an amazing group of young adults,” says Imani Gilliam, Dean of Programs. “I have had the opportunity to watch these students learn, grow and continue to challenge themselves and their academic experiences. I congratulate them on this honor and wish them the best of luck in the future.”

CPP launched in 2007 to expand academic proficiency among students in public high schools, with the goal of increasing the number of students who aspire to, enter and graduate from competitive colleges. These students comprise the final class of SEEDS’ College Preparatory Program. In 2015, SEEDS launched the College Scholars Program, a 17-month program to bring the proven techniques developed in CPP to three times as many students in a wider geographic area. The first class of College Scholars will graduate later this month.

Congratulations to the CPP Class of 2017!

Amaliya Agambila: Drew University
Nyshayla Barnes: American University
Dinah Beckford: Providence College
Silas Bond: Colgate University
Zaire Brown: Allegheny College
Leslie Castro: The College of New Jersey
Tyecese Clarke: Denison University
Will Constant: Lehigh University
Franca Estimable: Rutgers University – Newark
Ashley Feliciano: Rider University
Vanessa Fernandez: Colgate University
Kabir Flemming: Kean University
Jibri Grigger-Muse: Washington & Jefferson College
Valini Lee: Rutgers University – Newark
Jenifer Lima: Drew University
Abram Mathiang: Skidmore College
Michelle Morales: The College of New Jersey
Naila Muhammed: Spelman College
Kayla Noel: University of Pennsylvania
Najee Quashie: College of the Holy Cross
Trishann Rice: Allegheny College
Marisabel Rivera: Dickinson College
Fredy Soto: Drew University
Oren Williams: Drew University

For more information, or to receive high-resolution photos, please contact Theresa Murray at [email protected] or at 862.227.9145.

About New Jersey SEEDS
For 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, 2,296 scholars have graduated from its programs. For more information, visit

Special thanks to the following corporations and foundations for their major support of the College Preparatory Program this year: C.R. Bard Foundation, Inc.; Educational Testing Service; The Karma Foundation; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; and Orange Orphan Society.