On his first day at Amherst, Tony Jack wondered to himself, “Where are the other poor black students?” That question, he said, eventually led him to write “The Privileged Poor – How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students,” published earlier this year by Harvard University Press. Along the way he graduated with honors from Amherst in 2007, then earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Harvard, where he is now a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows and an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education.
Watch our executive director, Kate Fenneman Stokes, Cornell junior Absetou, and Vassar alumnus Sino talk about Scholarship Plus and their college journeys on Up Close with Bill Ritter.
The Summer Gathering this year marked a milestone. And it included a number of surprises.
The experts knew what they were talking about, and at the annual College Transition Day they commanded the engagement of a classroom full of scholars about to head off to campuses for the first time. Some experts were Scholarship Plus staff members, some were Scholarship Plus upperclassmen, some were new friends brought in to share hard-won experiences and insights. Advice included the necessarily practical – time management skills, the mysteries and opportunities of the syllabus document – but extended to the deep insights of a psychologist whose specialty is helping people of color recognize – and blunt – microaggressions rooted in racism.
It was an evening of dinner and the theater for this summer’s scholars on a rainy day at the end of July. In both, there was more on the table than might be seen at first glance.
To Google is usually an individual action, but late one afternoon this summer’s scholars all went Googling as a group. Joined by scholars who are upperclassmen at Dartmouth and Colgate, we went through a set of doors at Google’s massive — it occupies a complete city block in Chelsea — New York City headquarters, and into the two-floor complex of the Grow with Google Learning Center. The bright and airy facility is envisioned as the company’s outreach to its neighbors, offering free classes throughout the day tailored for businesses, educators, entrepreneurs and students. Subjects cover everything from fundamentals of online coding to using digital tools, “Build a Compelling Presentation” and creating a resume.
Photograph by Matt Stokes Photography
When our group of scholars stepped off the elevators at the offices of the Battery Conservancy at One Wall Street, we were greeted by Warrie Price, its president and founder, who directed us first to the staff lounge for a quick look out its 17th-floor windows. Below us spread the park and its 195,000 square feet of gardens, then New York Harbor, busy with boats of all sizes, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Soon we would be aboard one of those boats, on the way to the Statue, then returning to the park and a ride on its magical Seaglass Carousel.
The first of the midweek outings for Scholars this year began with a tour of a biannual exhibition at the Whitney Museum that traditionally “takes the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment,” and ended with what has become a Scholarship Plus tradition — ice cream on the High Line, just outside the museum.
It isn't easy holding centuries-old institutions mired in tradition accountable, but that is precisely what Joselyn, a first-year student interested in Biomedical Engineering and Studio Art at Dartmouth College, is doing.
“When they come into my office,” Mylasha says, “it’s the first time they have talked about going to college.”