New Jersey SEEDS Celebrates its College Scholars Graduates

June 21, 2018 – Newark, NJ –New Jersey SEEDS, a nonprofit that provides educational access to high-achieving, low-income students, celebrated the graduation of its second class of College Scholars on Saturday, June 9, 2018. All 39 high school seniors were admitted to colleges and universities across the country, and 87 percent of these students will enroll in schools ranked as Most, Highly or Very Competitive, according to Barron’s.

The College Scholars Class of 2018 received more than 100 acceptances from 55 colleges and universities. Twenty-two members of this class were accepted to college through Early Decision, Early Decision II or QuestBridge matches.

For the past 17 months, students enrolled in the College Scholars Program participated in classes each Saturday during the school year and spent three weeks last summer on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges with SEEDS. 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.

“The zip code you were born into should not define where you’re going in life,” says John F. Castano, New Jersey SEEDS’ Executive Director. “These students exemplify that. Our College Scholars have worked diligently to prepare themselves for what’s next. Now, they are heading off to the nation’s best colleges and universities. I am so proud of all they have accomplished.”

To be eligible 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. Students in the Class of 2018 represent 19 public high schools from 16 cities within 25 miles of Newark.

The College Scholars Class of 2018 Graduation Ceremony was held at Montclair State University. There, family members, friends, donors, guests and SEEDS Trustees celebrated the students’ accomplishments. Guests in attendance heard from Michelle Swittenberg, the morning’s Commencement Speaker. Eduardo Vargas (College Scholars ’18, Bound Brook High School ’18, Tufts University ‘22) also addressed his classmates and guests.

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

  • Lisett Bonilla-Guoyennet was named the Lee Brenner Scholar for her exceptional achievements while enrolled in the College Scholars Program.
  • Faith Northern was presented with the New Jersey SEEDS Academic Achievement Award because of her academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
  • Yaa Obeng was presented with the Dean’s Award for overall achievement, strong positive character, leadership, great citizenship, exceptional academic qualities and terrific personality.
  • Albert Pimentel was named the Ed and Barbara Becker Scholar for his outstanding academic achievement and exemplary work done while in New Jersey SEEDS.
  • Jenny Rodriguez was acknowledged as the recipient of the 2018 National Honor Society (NHS) Scholarship. Jenny was selected as the recipient from more than 15,000 applicants nationwide and was announced as the winner by the NHS in May.

Congratulations to the New Jersey SEEDS College Scholars Class of 2018!

  • Alice Agyekum (Orange High School) – Dickinson College
  • Inasia Belton (University High School) – Denison University
  • Mason Bolano (Carteret High School) – Franklin & Marshall College
  • Lisett Bonilla-Gouyonnet (North Bergen High School) – Mount Holyoke College
  • Alexis Burgess (Rahway High School) – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Lovely Charles (Orange High School) – Lehigh University
  • Nadjulia Constant (Orange High School) – Villanova University
  • Nicole Duque (Union City High School) – George Washington University
  • Sarenna Enright (Kearny High School) – University of Richmond
  • Carolina Fernandes (Alexander Hamilton Preparatory High School) – Gettysburg College
  • Janesty Gomez (John E. Dwyer Technology High School) – Dickinson College
  • Darren Gonzalez (Woodbridge High School) – Montclair State University
  • Erica Gonzalez (Union City High School) – Cornell University
  • John Goodman (Rahway High School) – Union College
  • Kemo Grant (Plainfield High School) – American University
  • Oscar Heredia (Alexander Hamilton Preparatory High School) – Montclair State University
  • Seth Holguin (Rahway High School) – Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Omar Husni (Elizabeth High School – Upper Academy) – University of Pennsylvania
  • Faiza Islam (Technology High School) – Rutgers University, Newark
  • Mari Jimenez (Harrison High School) – Union College
  • Kayla Kaczowski (Woodbridge High School) – Vassar College
  • Jenny Lin (Carteret High School)  – Vassar College
  • Jessaline Morales (Carteret High School) – University of Rochester
  • Ashley Moscoso (Orange High School) – Lehigh University
  • Luis Muller (Rahway High School) – Elon University
  • Faith Northern (Irvington High School) – Vassar College
  • Yaa Obeng (Technology High School) – Amherst College
  • Daniel Perez (North Bergen High School) – Vassar College
  • Olivier Pierre (Rahway High School) – Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Albert Pimentel (Elizabeth High School – Upper Academy) – University of Pennsylvania
  • Yarlening Polanco (Rosa Parks Arts High School) – Drew University
  • Briana Racine (Malcolm X Shabazz High School) – Bridgewater College
  • Alex Rodriguez (Union City High School) – Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Jenny Rodriguez (Orange High School) – American University
  • Rachel Salinas (North Bergen High School) – Smith College
  • Jonah Sierra (Barringer High School) – Syracuse University
  • Eduardo Vargas (Bound Brook High School) – Tufts University
  • Natalia Velez (John E. Dwyer Technology High School) – College of Saint Elizabeth
  • Chantaly Villalona (Technology High School) – Wellesley College

For more information on SEEDS and ways to get involved, please visit our website. For high resolution photos or video from the event, please contact Theresa Murray at [email protected] or at 862.227.9145.

About New Jersey SEEDS
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, nearly 2,500 scholars have graduated from its programs. For more information, visit