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Rutgers Future Scholars Welcomes Its Newest Class
Latest cohort brings total number of participants to 1,000
Tomorrow’s doctors, research scientists and graphic designers filled an auditorium on Busch Campus Friday, proudly decked out in red T-shirts proclaiming them members of the Rutgers Class of 2021.
The Rutgers Future Scholars Program embraced its fifth and latest cohort of seventh-graders, bringing to 1,000 the number of students from Newark, Camden, New Brunswick and Piscataway to take advantage of a program offering them mentoring, educational enrichment and support. If they successfully complete the rigorous program, the scholars -- many from low-income backgrounds and all the first in their families to attend college -- will be able to attend Rutgers tuition-free.
“This program has been a great relief – it gave me hope that I could send my child to school and have that financial backing. It definitely has been a blessing,” said Kara Eaton of Piscataway, whose son, Jared Pinkney, is a rising senior at Piscataway High School.
Eager to enroll at Rutgers, Jared hopes to major in marketing and business management. Like many of his fellow participants, he is enrolled in honor classes – in his case English and U.S. history – and has a full plate of after-school activities.
“Of our earlier classes of Rutgers Future Scholars, more than half are in honors, AP or accelerated classes,” Aramis Guitierrez, program director, told the students, parents, grandparents and teachers who crowded into the Allison Road Classroom Building for the welcoming ceremony. “And we have many members of the National Honor Society as well.”
Conceived by Courtney McAnuff, vice president of enrollment management, and announced formally by Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick in the fall of 2007, the initiative is open to students from the university’s host communities who are about to enter eighth-grade.
Those chosen take part in activities that include summer programs, seminars, athletic and cultural events and field trips. They also have opportunities to interact with professionals in such areas as law, health care, engineering and teaching.
The program is funded through a range of grants and donations.
“This is my final year as president, and there is no question that this is one of the things I am proudest of,” said McCormick, who addressed the gathering as one of his last official acts in the position before beginning a new chapter as a Rutgers professor.
Encouraging the newest participants to stand up and applaud themselves, he promised, “We will do everything we can to help you succeed.”
McCormick added that for some of the participants, college might have seemed beyond their grasp, and added, “We want to change that. College may be the best way to prepare for a career, but it’s more – it’s the best way to prepare for the rest of your life.”
Individually and collectively, the budding academicians rose to thank McCormick during the program, presenting him with 1,000 carnations – representing the total number of scholars to date – and offering heartfelt testimonials from the stage.
“My life could have turned out so much worse had he not approved the Future Scholars Program,” said one member of the class of 2017. “You gave me so much hope,” added another. “If it weren’t for this program, I wouldn’t even be thinking of college.”
Count Piscataway twins Bryana and Patrice Belin among those who have hitched their wagon to Rutgers’ star via the Future Scholars initiative.
A rising senior and a whiz in chemistry, Bryana Belin hopes to become a neurosurgeon one day, mixing in elements of psychology and music therapy.
“There are not a lot of women in that field, and I like that it’s a very innovative area. It allows you to think outside of the box. There will be a lot of new discoveries being made over the next few years,” she said, “and I want to be among the ones to make them.”
Her sister is looking toward a future in law and business, with a strong underpinning of dance. The possible future dance teacher said the art she loves helps relieve the stress of being a teenager and helps her channel her energy into something positive, something beautiful.
Both students say the Future Scholars program has created bonds they hope will remain strong through their college careers – and beyond.
“We’re pretty fond of everyone in the program,” Patrice Belin said. “We built a family. Even with the younger scholars, they know they can come to me or anyone else in the program if they need help.”
Friday’s program also paid tribute to the private and corporate donors who help keep the initiative alive, including Steve Colson, Cathy Martine of AT&T, and Luke Visconti of Diversity Inc.
The Rutgers Future Scholars program is a key part of the university’s historic $1 billion fund-raising campaign, “Our Rutgers, Our Future.”
Media Contact: Fredda Sacharow
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