markeisha-brooklyn-1437414806

Markeisha

Brooklyn

I was born on the beautiful island of Jamaica and immigrated to the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY at the age 14. My parents, having very little knowledge about the NYC public school system, quickly enrolled me in my neighborhood school. Boys and Girls High School had a 90% minority population, very poor instructional quality, and very low teacher expectation. Only an exceptional few students got placed into the honors track and gained access to the best quality instructors and curricula at the school. By the end of my senior year, only 48% of my cohort graduated high school. Today, only 5% of students from my high school graduate college ready and only 18% attend college. I was fortunate enough to be tracked into the honors program and received access to the best quality instruction and curricular at the school. Much of my success can be attributed to one teacher, Mrs. Gouvia Atherley, who saw my potential and challenged me to excel academically. Mrs. Gouvia was determined to see me succeed and encouraged me to apply to some of the most selective schools in the country, many of which I did not know existed. She encouraged me to go away to a new place for college, build friendships with students from other backgrounds, and to study abroad (advice which was well received.) In 2011, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college, with a degree in Psychology from Smith College. In May 2015, I received my Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I am currently working as a summer Education Pioneers Fellow at Year Up and will dedicate my life to serving opportunity youths, like myself, who can excel if given opportunities. I would advise young people from my background to keep working hard to achieve their goals and never give up on their career aspiration when they come up against barriers as their success should not be determined by their race or their zip code.

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