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Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Unit: Youth Testimonials

The Youth Development and College and Career Readiness unit at NYU Metro Center utilizes a tailored holistic approach in order to ensure our students maintain strong academic standing and are prepared for the next stages of their lives.

The YDDCR Unit prioritizes youth-directed learning and engagement, as a means to facilitate both academic and social growth that will empower young adults throughout their lives. 

Youth Testimonials

We share these Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Youth Testimonials to better highlight the perspectives, insights, and experiences of our talented and industrious youth participants.

Image of a high school student studying at her dining room table.

Youth Testimonial shared by Shermaya P.

My name is Shermaya P. and I have participated with LPP since my sophomore year in 2021 at Richard R. Green High School of Teaching. Initially, I found the different courses that LPP was offering that summer very interesting. I felt that this would occupy me during the summer and provide a more educational alternative rather than having a summer job.

Image captures high school student wearing a black shirt, eye glasses, and her hair in twists.

During the summer, a lot of students often experience a very big “forgetting curve” when it comes to core subjects such as math or reading comprehension. So, I feel as though LPP helped to relieve the damage that the curve would’ve done to me and my peers through some of their core subject-centered classes. My feelings about school did not really change after being in the program because I’d always done well in school. LPP showed me that there were more creative ways to incorporate learning into my everyday life.

I feel like I gained a lot of social skills from LPP. I started high school as a very shy and quiet student but a lot of the LPP and NYU-sponsored events I attended were centered around public speaking and student interactions. I learned to put myself out there more and create a voice for myself. For example, participating in Albany Day with LPP, the NYU Office of Government Affairs, and NYU Opportunity Programs encouraged students to advocate for LPP by describing the impact of the program, so I had a chance to have conversations with some of the legislators and other high school/college students. At the Empire Promise Youth Summit, I had the opportunity to collaborate with other high school students I’d never met before from all over New York State for three days to complete different challenges. The challenges required teamwork, communication, and strategy.  As a result, I was much more prepared to face things like a group interview for a scholarship program I was nominated for this summer.  I can definitely say that I am more confident in social settings similar to those I mentioned above. 

I was also given the opportunity to collaborate with the LPP Assistant Program Director, Jasrin, to design socio-emotional postcards related to mental wellness for students. With the onset of Covid-19, many students struggled to adjust to the mixture of online learning and in-person learning. These postcards aim to ease the transition in social interactions and support mental well-being among students. They give students an outlet to express themselves by completing fun and quick activities on one side of each of the postcards. The cards display a wide range of different emotions that students may be experiencing at the moment. Overall, my experience working with the NYU LPP has been very enriching and filled with wonderful opportunities that I think every student should have access to.

Youth Testimonial shared by Howie L.

The end of the school year was nearing, and my main concern was how to make the most out of my summer. I thought about grinding out financial books the whole summer, but deep down I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay consistent. I am going into my junior year, and my family is serious about me getting into a good college. I had to get my extracurriculars in, but personally I wasn’t certain about needing college.

Image captures a student student wearing black glasses and a blue and white shirt, as he has his picture taken with a brown building in the background.

I was still planning to attend, but I was influenced by the idea that if I could somehow dedicate all the time I spend on school on actual business instead, I would be better off. This all changed on that day when I, standing in the middle of McDonalds, saw a message appear on my phone from my guidance counselor with big six letters: NYU LPP. It was a month-long summer program that offered a youth entrepreneurship program called “We Thrive.” The idea of business lured me in, and I knew that if I wanted to be successful in the future, I would need some kind of knowledge of business so I wouldn’t be too dependent on others. That was when I joined the LPP Summer 2023 Program. 

I began day one with minimalistic expectations. I thought the program would only be 30 days of Google slide shows on business concepts. I had my first Zoom meet orientation where I met all the NYU student mentors of the different courses. The first things they emphasized were attendance, punctuality, respect, and participation; they were mature. The program taught me to collaborate with others and gave me some hands-on experience with doing rather than just learning (I always valued that though it was hard for me to do). The first week was all about professionalism. I improved my resume which would be valuable for college. I practiced interviews, which I felt turned out horrible and the first thing I thought was, “Glad I failed today rather than ten years down the line.” Then, I was introduced to the idea of starting a business of my own. In small groups, my classmates and I were taught about developing a product, making the product, developing and presenting a pitch deck, and selling the product. I was able to get a better idea of what being an entrepreneur is like. Alongside that, we went on a field trip to Columbia University where I attended my first ever College Fair and expanded my options while learning a bit more about what I can major in. I learned more about the city with a final trip to Central Park, where teams of students participated in a scavenger hunt of important monuments. Each team presented what we learned about the monuments. There was also a “College Knowledge” competition based on the College Fair at Columbia University. The program was great in giving me a variety of experiences, practice, knowledge, and other resources, all the while respecting my time. The LPP staff were super friendly and mature. Overall, it was a blast.

Something that I’d like to point out is that the program is generous in providing a ton of connections and opportunities. Some other field trips included the Summit at One Vanderbilt (an art installation for the element of air) and a Washington, D.C. trip. I earned a stipend after completing the program and honoring the rules stated at the beginning (attendance, punctuality, respect, and participation), and completing a final project showing all I learned throughout the program. My weekend trip to Washington, D.C. was so memorable. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture gave me a physical representation of the struggles of slavery. I saw many animals in the National Zoo. The most inspiring experience during the trip was the Vietnam War Memorial where a man came up to us and gave a speech on the sacrifices of those soldiers to protect our freedom. He then said something along the lines of, “Stay in school kids. Most of those soldiers you see there were kids your age who never even finished high school; who went out there to protect your freedom.  You are given an opportunity to attend college that they never had - that I took for granted. Stay in school kids!” That moment opened my eyes to how lucky I am to be given the opportunities that I have today, including college. Supplemented by my experiences in the program, I found a purpose in college that I never saw. 

This program is an unforgettable experience for me because it showed me so much more in the world. The generosity of everything that this program offers is truly a gift. 

Youth Testimonial shared by Tyrell M.

Most 11th and 12 graders study, learn, and prepare for college by themselves or with the guidance counselor in high school. My guidance counselor has over 1,200 students to help as our school is large. My mom, who does not understand the education process in this country, sought any help she could get for me to navigate my high school process. Therefore, she signed me up when she heard about the NYU [College Prep Academy/ 1199 Workforce] program.

Image captures student wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and backpack with black straps, as he proudly hold up academic test results.

I can confidently say everyone in the NYU College Prep Academy gave me all the help I needed throughout 11th and 12th grade. This program helped me tremendously with college prep, my regular classes in school and even making sure that I had good mental well-being. Attending this program would have to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me during my high school years. I met so many people and learned valuable things. I was asked about my goals and what classes I would like help with. Every teacher took time to get to know me and explained some of the most difficult topics in different ways and I am so grateful that they never gave up on me. 

As a senior, the college prep and individual attention made a difference to me as a first-generation student from an immigrant family. My college application process was quick and easy. They helped me explore majors and what I wanted to do in the future as well as taught me everything I needed to know about college. I felt like I had people who cared and with whom I could talk about anything. Words cannot explain the extraordinary amount of support the NYU CPA has given me. When I think back on my journey, I am all smiles. 

Before joining this program, I had a hard time speaking to people, and now based on all the conversations asking me to explain a multitude of things I find it so much easier to relate to people. I believe that all high school students need this kind of support in order to become the best person they can be. This program will always have a special place in my heart wherever life takes me. Without all the support from everyone from NYU, I don’t think my high school experience would be so grand. 

Thank you, Mom and NYU CPA

Youth Testimonial shared by Paola R.

I participated in the NYU CPA program during my junior and senior years of high school. I can say that right from orientation day, I felt I had entered a family. From the beginning, the program was very reassuring to the anxious students and parents who were entering the program During my junior year CPA staff helped me with physics, college-level calculus, college-level History, and even retaking my chemistry regents.

Image captures a head shot of Paola Romero, a student participant in the College Prep Academy/ 1199 Workforce.

 Academic support from teachers included helping us with homework, and exams, and understanding the material better. I quickly realized a change in my approach to classes I deemed difficult. The teachers would even work one-on- one with me, which personalized my learning to allow me to excel in my courses.

During my senior year, my biggest concern was applying for college. I felt very overwhelmed by the complexity of the process, and the many unknowns I would be facing entering college. This program felt like a safe haven, in the sense that I had people who supported me not just academically but mentally as there was always someone to talk to about my worries and doubts. Since early childhood, I have been interested in entering the dental field but was at a loss of what the process of becoming a dentist would look like. The program connected me with the Saturday Academy at NYU College of Dentistry. 

Today in college, I still feel supported by the NYU program in every step of the way through Alumni activities, educators speak with me about my concerns and doubts and motivate me to finish college and begin my career. I feel that for any student, a program such as this one is essential to give them the confidence to take on careers that may seem out of reach, and teach them how to navigate stress through healthy coping mechanisms.

Youth Testimonial shared by Matthew L.

My first year as a student in the College Prep Academy/ [1199 Workforce] (CPA) was in 2014 as a 10th grader, and in 2016, I returned as a 12th grader. As a 10th grader, I received academic support for several subjects like US History, Chemistry, and Trigonometry. The additional support that I received on these subjects was instrumental to my success in my corresponding high school coursework and the regents exams, but this influence extended far beyond academics.

Image captures the headshot of Mr. Matthew Arthur, an alum of the College Prep Academy/ Workforce 1199. Matthew is smiling and wearing a collared shirt.

Since neither of my parents had attended college, I grew up with little knowledge of what a college campus even looked like. Participating in CPA gave me my first opportunity to step foot on a college campus, and this exposure gave me a glimpse into what my future could look like.

In 12th grade, I returned to the program, and my experience this time around was especially meaningful. I received SAT prep, support throughout the college admissions process, and also learned about and practiced mindfulness meditation. All three aspects combined to produce a very productive senior year for me, where I excelled on my SATs, had a successful college admissions cycle, and was overall in a better mind space due to meditation. I was also able to utilize resources like the NYU library, which provided me with a quiet space to independently study for the SATs and work on my college application. I also attended seminars where college admissions representatives spoke on relevant topics, college fairs, alumni panels, and professional development panels. Apart from this, the friends I made while participating were from all over New York City, and through these friendships, I learned about different cultures and gained valuable perspectives.

The resources I received from the College Prep Academy[/ 1199 Workforce at NYU Metro Center] (CPA) would have been otherwise inaccessible, and I am confident that my educational, professional, and even personal outcomes would have been drastically different had I not participated as a student. 

After graduating from high school in 2017, I began attending Cornell University and graduated in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences. While in college, I continued to reflect on how meaningful my participation was as a student in the CPA program which motivated me to join as staff in the Summer of 2019, and then again from the Summer of 2020 until the Spring of 2022 as the program adapted to a virtual format because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I continue to stay in touch with the program, participating in various panels and offering guidance or mentorship to students interested in medicine, research, or that are applying to Cornell.

Simply put, the mentorship and guidance I received in CPA was foundational to my development, and because of this, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

More of NYU Metro Center's YDCCR's Youth Testimonials

Meet Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Student: Dania P.

Hear from Dania P., currently a Junior at the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching, as she recounts the first time she learned about NYU LPP.



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Meet Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Student: Kesha A.

Hear from Kesha A., as she shares her experience as a participant in NYU LPP's 2023 Summer Program.




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Meet Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Student: Tandi C.

Read more about Tandi C., a third year student at Landmark High School. Tandi recalls her experiences with NYU LPP beginning in 2019, just prior to COVID-19 lockdowns. 


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Meet Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Student: Andrea R.

Hear from Andrea R., a YDCCR alum who spent four (4) years in the CPA/ 1199 Workforce program. Andrea R. reveals how the program helped her overcome her initial shyness, as well as guide her step by step throughout the college preparation process.



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Meet Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Student: Jade E.

Hear from Jade E., a YDCCR alum who participated in the CPA/ 1199 Workforce program's PRE-RN Program in 2019. Jade E. describes how the program taught her both the importance of mentorship and networking, two attributes she makes use of as a college student.  



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Meet Youth Development and College and Career Readiness Student: Sandip R.

Hear from Sandip R., a YDCCR alum who not only earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but also recently passed his NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). Sandip R. participated in the CPA/ 1199 Workforce program's PRE-RN Program.


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