The Class of 2011: front row, Bryan Mera, Jane Leung and Leticia Quezada; second row, Gregory Scott, Janagan Naahanathan and Yuexia Lin. Soma Golden Behr at right and Melanie Rosen Brooks, left.

Photo by Gabrielle Plucknette

2011 Scholars

These are the members of Scholarship Plus's second class:

When Jane Leung entered Francis Lewis High School in Queens, she knew she had to find some way to succeed in its vast sea of 4,000 students.  She discovered Junior R.O.T.C., a sprawling organization that plays a huge role at the school, and promotes discipline, excellence and comradeship.  She rose to be a commander, managing to handle her military responsibilities while getting strong grades and participating in a vast array of extracurricular activities, including winning math competitions and tutoring.  She is focused on a career in nursing, and is studying at the University of Pennsylvania.

Yuexia Lin arrived here from China a little over two years ago, and has navigated with exceptional grace.  At one point she and her mother cleaned video tapes to pay rent for their tiny apartment.  She found her way to Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School, a terrific high school that is a beacon for new immigrants (and that counts Maimouna Dieye, who is in our first scholarship class, among its graduates).  Teachers in history, science and English sing Luna's praises – and that was before she produced a prize-winning video in a national contest this year.  She is attending Barnard.

Bryan Mera came here very young from the Dominican Republic, and early on observed how hard his father worked to support his expanded family, both here and back on his island home.  Bryan followed suit, working all-out, and graduated second in his class of over 500 at Long Island City High School in Queens.  He was captain of the gymnastics team at school, and also holds a black belt in karate – and teaches at his martial arts school.  He is studying at Brown, and is aiming for a medical career.

Janagan Naahanathan and his family won the immigration lottery, allowing them to come here from Sri Lanka.  He arrived in the middle of the junior year, and entered Richmond Hill High School in Queens speaking Tamil and very little English.  Soon he was tutoring other students in math – and English.  He also occasionally sings Hindu religious songs, solo and without music.  He is a student at Stony Brook, and hopes one day to be a cardiologist, serving the great need for health care that he sees here and in his home country.

Leticia Quezada came here five years ago from the Dominican Republic, joining a grandmother who had become an American citizen in the 1990s.  As her parents struggled to find work, Leticia took on a heavy load of child care for her two sisters – but she quickly mastered English and overcame other obstacles.  She was the valedictorian at Aquinas High School in the Bronx, where she edited the yearbook and the school paper, tutored math and French, and found time to go to Yankee games.  Her long term plan is to become a human rights lawyer.  She attends Harvard.

Gregory Scott was born in the United States to Jamaican parents, and graduated from All Hallows, a Catholic high school in the Bronx.  He has a passion for political science and is an avid reader of current events.  He also has a passion for running – short distances and the hurdles.  He hopes eventually to combine those passions by running for political office, first as a City Council member from the Bronx, and eventually, who knows?  He is studying at the University of Rochester.