Winter Gathering 2019
The rooms where our students first encountered Scholarship Plus team members years ago were alive again on the evening of January 8 with talk of schools, accomplishments and dreams, as present and former scholars, staff members and supporters met for the annual Winter Gathering. School sweatshirts and sweaters — Columbia, Cornell, RPI, SUNY Oneonta and Swarthmore among them — dotted the rooms. The soundtrack was a hum of cheerful conversation: semester-abroad discoveries and adventures, news of new jobs and graduate school applications.
A number of longtime supporters of Scholarship Plus were on hand, including five members of the Associates Board, one of whom gave a succinct definition of the board’s mission: “Supporting our Scholars.” As part of that support, two Associates Board members stood on the stairs and led a short and highly effective session on networking.
“What do you think of when you hear the word ‘networking,’?” asked Jayson Jones, secretary of the Associates Board and a staff member at N.Y.U.’s School of Social work. “Anxiety,” came the reply of one scholar, who, nodding heads around the room suggested, was clearly speaking for many of those present. “Opportunity” was the theme of several other answers.
Jayson, joined by Amar Ramroop, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor who is also a member of the Associate Board, then went on to demonstrate some useful opening lines — “I really like your earrings” was one. They also described a technique they had devised called “Funneling,” using questions to identify areas of common career interest. As the conversation ends, Jayson and Amar said, get an email address or other means of contact. Be sure to follow up the next day, they stressed, mentioning something worthwhile that you had taken away from the conversation. Hopefully, they said, this approach would be a road map to converting a brief and pleasant encounter to a long-term contact.
Shortly thereafter the conversations resumed, as new scholars talked with upperclassmen about what might come next, news was shared of a new job in the New York City Mayor’s office, of a switch from high school placement advisor to working for an advocacy group that seeks to broaden government language support for people interacting with official agencies, of the patient wait to hear from graduate schools or fellowship opportunities, or of approaching weddings and all the other things that a family shares. For that is what was happening that January evening – an extended and growing family had gathered once again in the house on West 88th Street where it all began.