Congratulations to the 19 seniors at Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts–Manhattan selected to become the second cohort of the SA Ruth and Norman Rales Scholars Program! This prestigious program is a partnership between Success Academy and the Ron Brown Scholar Program, fostered and funded by the Rales Foundation. SA Rales Scholars will receive not only financial support — a $40,000 scholarship over four years of college — but also personalized support through access to mentors, leadership programming, and career development, made possible through the Ron Brown Scholar Program partnership. The Rales Foundation has committed to support up to 125 SA Rales Scholars over the next five years.
Established in 1996 in memory of the first African American U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Ron Brown Scholar Program brings 25 years of experience in college access and persistence and professional mentorship, as evidenced by a 99% graduation rate for its more than 500 scholars from the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities.
A role model for her younger siblings, Bridget gives back to her community by tutoring and mentoring elementary and middle school students. She has continually challenged herself academically by taking six AP classes and has participated in extracurriculars like Student Council, Senior Committee, and SA-NAN (“No-Adults-Needed” tutoring program). Bridget used to watch the news with her parents and developed an interest in politics and the research and reporting involved in journalism. She explored these interests more when she joined the St. Alban's School of Public Service program, where she researched Supreme Court amendments and spoke with top journalists and lawyers around the world. As a first-generation student, Bridget will attend Northeastern University this fall where she plans to pursue a political science and journalism major while minoring in STEM.
Wuraola has always had the passion and desire to bring joy to others, yearning to help them achieve their goals and realize their full potential. Throughout her time in high school, Wuraola has demonstrated her concern for others' welfare through her leadership positions. She founded SA HSLA's first Afrobeat Dance club as a freshman in the hope of giving students a platform for creative expression and cultural celebration. The club has since grown to over 25 members. She has also been an SA-NAN tutor, a member of the Senior Committee, a founding member of the HSLA Scholar Advisory Committee, and the president of Root Awakening. Wuraola plans to use the knowledge she obtained from Columbia University's Emerging Climate Leaders workshop to pursue environmental or robotics engineering at Brown University this fall.
Charismatic and multi-faceted, Cheyenne loves a good challenge. She holds one of the highest grade point averages in her class and has excelled in rigorous courses, having taken multiple AP classes. During her senior year, she enrolled in the highly-competitive Columbia Edge program, where she took Calculus II and Statistics alongside undergraduate students. Outside of the classroom, Cheyenne has made her mark on the volleyball court as captain of the Varsity network team. Cheyenne tutored sixth graders through the SA-NAN program and became a teaching assistant for multiple classes. She has also volunteered with NY Common Pantry, where she prepared and distributed food to the needy. This fall, Cheyenne is excited to attend Yale University where she plans on majoring in sociology to continue inspiring and uplifting others.
Andrew is the president of HSLA-MA's Student Government and loves to problem solve, try new things, and challenge himself. He is also a youth leader at Words of Life Christian Center and has impacted hundreds of teenagers through small group discussions, mentorship, and prayers. Andrew has helped the competitive chess team to victories in state and national tournaments in previous years and was active in numerous theater productions. Andrew has taken rigorous courses — seven AP classes in all — including AP Art History, AP European History, AP Macroeconomics, and AP English Literature and Composition. But more than anything, he's an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to leverage international markets for positive change. Andrew is planning to study business management and global history at Washington University in St. Louis.
Banel is a passionate advocate for human rights and social justice, with aspirations to represent victims of human rights crimes and improve oppressive laws and systems on a local and worldwide scale. She made headway in this area in high school, collecting signatures for a petition for Elijah McClain, the young Black man who died after a violent police encounter in Colorado in 2019, and participating in Cornell University's three-week International Human Rights program. Banel also gives back to the SA community by serving as the chief marketing officer of the popular SA-NAN tutoring program and captaining the OT3 dance team. She's also a Thrasio Entrepreneurship Fellow, which recognizes her ability to combine passion with creativity and inventive thinking. Banel plans to study international relations and political studies at Boston University.
From a young age, Alvaro has valued the importance of community. He's volunteered at soup kitchens since kindergarten, seeing firsthand the importance of giving back. When Alvaro arrived at the High School of the Liberal Arts–Manhattan, he was motivated and inspired by the spirit of togetherness inherent in the Class of 2020. In his senior year, he became a member of the Student Government, the Senior Committee, and a leader in the Freshman Mentoring program. Even with his involvement in the school community, Alvaro prioritized challenging himself in the classroom: taking Honors AP Calculus, AP Biology, Honors U.S. History, and Government, and Old Middle Early Modern English Lit. Headed to Northeastern this fall, Alvaro plans on creating a culture — and eventually a legacy — of community leadership on campus.
Oumou is known for radiating positive energy, which makes her a passionate and impactful leader in her school community. She has prioritized involvement in programs such as SA-NAN and community organizing initiatives — she wants to lead by example and help younger students find their confidence. Oumou believes deeply in the importance of advocating for herself and for others, which is why she is the person who thoughtfully shares her opinions, whether in classes such as U.S. History and Government or as a member of the school's Student Government. Never one to turn down a challenge, Oumou has taken on AP Chemistry as well as Pathophysiology and Medical Microbiology as an extra class supporting her dream of majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University this fall.
Yasmin will be a first-generation college student, and, despite many past career aspirations including firefighting and becoming a veterinarian, she has ultimately decided to enter the medical field. Passionate about science and math, Yasmin has taken a number of AP classes and honors classes and thrived in them all. She's “obsessed” with music and the creation of memories through music, which makes her “feel mended.” The vice president of the Raising Awareness for Mental Health Club and an underclassman mentor, Yasmin has been greatly influenced by her grandmother, who emphasized the importance of hard work, accountability, teamwork, and controlling the controllable. She will start at the University of Virginia in the fall.
Cana is a great representation of what it means to have the best of both worlds. She has had one of the highest grade point averages in her grade throughout high school, all while taking rigorous AP courses. Cana was also chosen to take classes alongside five other students as part of Columbia University's Edge Program. She not only thrives in academics but also loves to perform, regularly taking part in theater productions, performing in the HSLA Coffeehouse shows, and this year joining the annual student-led show, Root Awakening. After participating in the NYU Tisch Summer Program to continue her growth as a performer during the summer of 2021, Cana plans to further pursue her passion, majoring in acting in the fall at the University of Southern California.
Sneha is an academically driven scholar who strives to make herself known in her community. She has been a teacher's assistant in six classes, tutoring students and leaving feedback on homework assignments. Sneha has been a Summer Experience participant for three years and during her junior year joined the SA-NAN Leadership Team as the chief operations officer. She is one of the first HSLA students to take an NYU course and also took two classes as a part of the Columbia Edge program at HSLA. With her cousins, Sneha is a part of an Indian dance team and spends time preparing dances for family events. She hopes to continue to bring her culture and academic drive to Rice University, where she plans to major in chemistry.
Laisha Koon Perez
As a freshman, Laisha developed an interest in computer science and has been determined to learn more ever since. Constantly looking for ways to challenge herself, she participated in a summer program called Bluestamp Engineering and attended a pre-college program for computer science at Carleton College. In addition to taking STEM Academy courses in mechanical and electrical engineering and data science, Laisha excelled in her AP courses. She helps fellow classmates with assignments relating to coding during and after class and also became a founding member of the Success Academy Summer Experience Fellow Selection Committee. The first in her family to attend college, Laisha is headed to Smith College this fall, where she plans to pursue computer science to ultimately get a job in tech.
A priority for Emily is to promote and encourage community engagement for all sectors of life, especially for those in low-income communities. Her participation in Columbia University's Emerging Climate Leaders Program enabled her to educate herself and others on the consequences of climate change in minority communities like hers. Beyond this, Emily has always had a keen interest in STEM and has excelled in AP courses such as biology and chemistry, as well as pre-med I and II, to further her passion for the sciences. Upon entering Emory University this upcoming August, she aspires to continue engaging in community service, pursue new leadership opportunities, and enroll in STEM-based programs and internships. Emily plans on majoring in biology with aspirations of becoming a physician's assistant.
In the midst of the global pandemic, Hashon built a sole proprietorship art business, known as Creations By Hashon. Centered around impact, innovation, and creativity, his art spreads happiness and joy into people's lives through his groundbreaking surrealist paintings. While running his growing business, Hashon consistently performs at the top of his class and has taken multiple AP and honors classes. He's spoken at multiple school panels, where he's given tips to incoming freshmen and underclassmen on the importance of managing their work. As a founding student of SA's NYU dual enrollment program, Hashon was exposed to rigorous and demanding college coursework in his junior year. He will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in the fall to combine his study of art with the study of social and decision sciences.
Kelly loves pursuing activities that allow her to be creative, having been a part of both the Art Club and Oh Snap Photography Club. She's been a part of Summer Experience as well as a lead mentor and application manager for SA's Summer Experience Selection Committee, where she shared her knowledge on the application process. While maintaining A's in her own classes, Kelly has helped others as a teacher's assistant in both AP Statistics and AP European History. Interning for MyEducationalist, a curriculum-creating company, and taking advanced STEM courses such as mechanical and electrical engineering have inspired Kelly to minor in education and major in engineering or architecture as a CSTEP student at Barnard College this fall.
Fervelyn is an ambitious individual who prioritizes the betterment of the community. During her sophomore year, she joined the Humanitarian Club, which provided food to the elderly and raised money for charity. During the pandemic, she joined SA-NAN and tutored sixth graders; some of her old tutees continue to ask Fervelyn for help. She also started the Mental Health Club, aiming to shed light on mental illnesses and the effects of extreme isolation. Fervelyn took an evolution class her junior year through NYU and this year has taken statistics and general chemistry through the Columbia Edge program. She co-founded HSLA’s first-ever Foreign Language Club and has also helped underclassmen as a Principles of Chemistry teacher’s assistant. Fervelyn hopes to further her knowledge in the medical field at Swarthmore College.
Emely Elise Polanco
Passionate about her community and the humanities, Emely studied AP Art History at Humanities Academy and was one of 12 students chosen to travel to London for an art history enrichment. During her junior year, she founded the Hidden History Book Club and led discussion groups about the history of minorities in America. Emely was also a founding secretary of SA-Raising Awareness, providing a platform for students to learn and talk about mental health issues, and served as Gay-Straight Alliance co-president. A Summer Experience Fellow, she participated in the Northwestern College Prep Program e-FOCUS Seminars, where she was able to discuss legal interpretation and the realities of being a lawyer. Next fall, Emely will be attending Haverford College where she hopes to major in economics and minor in computer science.
Proud to be in the top 5% of her class, Chyna finds joy in mentoring others and giving back to the community. Her participation in the SA-NAN tutoring club has allowed her to put her mentoring skills into action by helping sixth-grade SA scholars who struggle with math. Interested in nursing, Chyna has prepared herself by taking pathophysiology, medical microbiology, genetics, modern medicine, and bioethics over the past two years. She looks forward to using the knowledge she’s gained at SA to pursue a career in both nursing and entrepreneurship, and her goal is to be a role model for the African American community. Chyna hopes to make a better future for the African American community in the medical field, and will start at Spelman College in the fall.
Alexa has taken rigorous STEM coursework throughout her high school career while staying in the top 10% of her class. Having seen family members fight cancer, she’s been moved to help other people facing the disease by pursuing a career in medicine. To get there, Alexa enrolled in the selective STEM Academy electives, taking biomedical engineering, pathophysiology and microbiology, and bioethics. While she hopes to save lives in the future, she is doing what she can to help others now, from tutoring sixth-graders as a member of SA-NAN to mentoring freshmen and fundraising and working with nonprofit organizations outside of school. Alexa will be matriculating into Brown University this fall and looks forward to taking advantage of the open curriculum there by concentrating in biology while also taking language and political science courses.
Charlize has always wanted to work in the medical field, pretending to be a doctor when she was five. Living in the South Bronx as a child of two Dominican immigrants, she’s seen how the lack of advanced medical technology can affect less fortunate areas. During her junior year, Charlize took pathophysiology and medical microbiology as well as electrical and mechanical engineering — earning all A+’s. She has also studied infectious agents and diseases at UChicago. Charlize became a tutor for SA-NAN, helping sixth graders who struggled in remote learning. At Haverford College, Charlize will enroll in their accelerated programs to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in biomedical engineering from UPenn in five years.