To Whom I Owe the Greatest Gratitude

I recently wrote “Tales of a Serial Entrepreneur (Part 5): How To Build a Safety Net When You’re Born with None.” In writing it, I realize that there are many organizations that are building safety nets for people like me, people who wouldn’t otherwise have any. This post is for them.

  • Deerfield Elementary School, Vista Verde Middle School, and University High School in Irvine, California: These are the public schools I went to, filled with teachers who did everything from supplying scholarship money for science trips to giving me the best math instruction I could have possibly asked for.
  • Questbridge: This organization ensures that talented students from low-income backgrounds receive the financial aid they need to go to the best colleges in the United States. As a Questbridge scholar, I was given the opportunity to apply to a multitude of top-tier schools with the guarantee of full financial aid.
  • Gates Millennium Scholars Program: The Gates Millennium Scholarship provides up to 10 years of full financial aid to high-achieving students of color. Because I was a Gates Millennium Scholar, I was able to cover any loans that I needed to take out to cover lack of income over the school year or summer.
  • Princeton University: Princeton guarantees full financial aid with no loans to all students based on need. Their goal is to have students graduate with no debt. I not only received full financial aid to attend Princeton, I was also exposed to incredible opportunities such as study abroad, access to the alumni network, and the best undergraduate experience in the country.
  • KIPP Academy Middle School in Houston, Texas: At KIPP Academy MIddle School, where I first taught, we believe that 100% of our children WILL learn and WILL succeed. It’s not that they “can”, it’s that they “will”.
  • Roses in Concrete: I heard Jeff Andrade speak at KIPP Schools Summit 2012, where he received a standing ovation for staying: “As long as the narrative, the purpose of schools in this country is to escape poverty, then poverty will never end.” Roses in Concrete is about healing the whole community, not teaching students to leave, but to stay and create opportunities for others.
  • New York Public Library: When I was first looking for a job after teaching, the NYPL offered a free job club to teach job search skills while helping people feel not alone in the often isolating process that is job searching.
  • Private Prep: Private Prep is a best-in-class tutoring company that focuses, first and foremost, not on test scores, but on students becoming better, stronger, more confident people. They do pro-bono work to support students that otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to afford their services.

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From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.