William Stone

  More Stories

Scholars ’04 | Lawrenceville School ’08 | Yale University ’12 | University of Pennsylvania, M.S.Ed ’14 | Yale University, J.D. ’17

“I would not be the person I am today without the experience I had in SEEDS. My vision for how to make the world a better place is inextricably linked to the structure of SEEDS. A quality education expands horizons and opens doors. The opportunity to study with other bright students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and to supplement the education I was receiving at my junior high school was a blessing that my family and I could not refuse. I saw the Scholars Program as an opportunity to surround myself with other people who also approached school as an opportunity to hone skills that would put them in a position to provide for their families. And, of course, at thirteen years old, I was also excited at the prospect of meeting new people and having fun.”

When William Stone stepped onto the New Jersey SEEDS bus on Grove Street in downtown Jersey City for his first day of class, he found himself interacting not only with other African-American students who were engaged and interested in school but also with highly motivated Puerto Rican, Dominican-American, Polish-American, and Chinese-American students. “Our topics of conversation ranged from girls to grades, rap music to cricket. We argued about math problems as fervently as we compared our basketball skills and discussed why some of us chose not to eat red meat. Lacking the social grace that so often saves adults from awkward interactions, we eyed each other’s plates in the cafeteria, we asked why certain girls wore headscarves, and we told each other the history of our families, where we came from, and what we believed.”

SEEDS opened the world to William by connecting him to other students from different cultural backgrounds and by unlocking doors that would eventually allow him to travel the world. SEEDS expanded his understanding of how the world works and what it looks like. SEEDS taught William to respect his peers, regardless of apparent differences, and gave him a deep sense of perspective that would allow him to frame the small issues he faced in a larger context. “The relationships I developed at SEEDS taught me that tolerance (what we often attempt to display) is not equivalent to acceptance (what we should practice) and that agreement with one another on all issues is much less important than discussing those issues with understanding and respect for one another. As our society becomes increasingly divided, as the backlash to the Civil Rights Era rages on, I think this is definitely the most important lesson I learned at SEEDS, a lesson that I wish more of our nation could learn.”

On a practical level, the classes William took with SEEDS helped him hit the ground running academically when he started at high school at Lawrenceville, and he traces his ability to adapt to new situations and to feel confident enough to take chances in new settings to his time with SEEDS. “As a former teacher, I saw first-hand just how much a school’s expectations for its students can influence how students see themselves and their potential. As an aspiring lawyer with an interest in education, SEEDS represents an educational model that takes advantage of a community’s innate diversity to educate students in a way that makes them responsible, caring, empathic citizens. SEEDS’ high expectations for its students encourage them to expect a lot of themselves. SEEDS communicates its expectations to its students both explicitly through the words of its teachers, interns, and directors and implicitly through their conduct. Through the school fair, the application guidance, and the interactions between students and alumni, SEEDS tells its students that there are no limits to what they can accomplish, so long as they maintain perspective and dare to be ambitious.”