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June 2017

With 10 Students, 8th Class Is Largest Yet

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Photographs by Skyler Reid

Flags flying. Students holding pennants of the colleges they will be attending. From left: Kate Fenneman Stokes, Soma Golden Behr, Nogaye, Roselkis, Xabier, Tasmia, Absetou, Jennifer, Deloris, Abdoulaye, Bai Hao, Emely and Melanie Rosen Brooks.

Scholarship Plus welcomed its eighth class on June 14 in a ceremony that had notable firsts. The class was our largest yet — 10 outstanding women and men. And the ceremony also introduced a longtime key member of the organization as our new Executive Director.

An overflow crowd of supporters and family members more than filled the 120 seats in New York Public Radio's Greene Space auditorium for the ceremony. Also present were all six members of the program's fourth class, now brand-new college graduates. (For what they are up to now, please click on Scholar Updates at left.)

The ceremony began with another welcome: Soma Golden Behr, the Scholarship Plus co-founder, introduced Kate Fenneman Stokes in her new role as Executive Director. Laura R. Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, welcomed the audience and reflected on her organization's history with Scholarship Plus from our earliest days, as well as on the bonds that had been formed with our interns who have worked at the station during the summers.

Three of the new college graduates took the lead in introducing the members of the new class. Philomina and Emony — keeping it serious but not solemn — gave the biographies of the new students and then introduced the individuals that each of the scholars had designated as Teachers Who Made a Difference. Shaunpaul handed each new scholar a rose, and gave envelopes containing certificates to each Teacher Who Made a Difference.

The students then said a few words about why they had selected their Teachers Who Made a Difference, and the recipients of that award each responded. (For the list of this year's Teachers Who Made a Difference, please scroll down to the end of the photos below.)

After the ceremony, many stayed for a reception. One of those present was Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who later posted this on social media: "The program understands that kids need support -- a hand up to succeed. These students I saw last night will fly ... and it was so moving to hear their testimonials to their teachers and their teachers' pride and love towards their students."

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Kate Fenneman Stokes, whose new responsibilities as Executive Director were announced at the ceremony, flanked by Soma Golden Behr, at left, her predecessor and the organization's co-founder, who now becomes the Senior Advisor, and Melanie Rosen Brooks, Director and co-founder.

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Laura R. Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, welcomes the new class.

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Emony, at left, and Philomina, right flank Absetou, who will be attending Cornell -- from which Emony just graduated.

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Roselkis introduces her Teacher Who Made a Difference, Habiba Khokhar, science teacher and college counselor at ELLIS Preparatory Academy.

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Jennifer reacts to a comment by her Teacher Who Made a Difference, Ryan Scheb, a history teacher at Cristo Rey New York High School.

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Bai Hao embraces his Teacher Who Made a Difference, Kasey Tong Ladner, who teaches second grade at P.S. 42, the Benjamin Altman School.

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Aixin, at right, who just graduated from Smith College, speaking with Lynn Povich, the head of the "Pod" — a group of donors — who were with Aixin through all four college years.

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Kate Fenneman Stokes speaking with Howard Stein, a longtime supporter of Scholarship Plus.

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Lawrie Mifflin and Jayson Jones, both active supporters of Scholarship Plus.

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Melanie Rosen Brooks, at right, with, from left, her mother, Lorraine Rosen, Joan Marks and Peggy Zamore.

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Scholarship Plus students with the individuals they selected as Teachers Who Made a Difference. From left, Habiba Khokar, Ofra Biener, Nogaye, Roselkis, Xabier, Margaret Ferrigno, Tasmia, Jennifer, Ryan Scheb, Deloris, Brian Moran (representing Phara Guberman), Abdoulaye, Azikiwe Peters, Vileti Akolo, Absetou, Lillian de Jesus and Emely.

Next: For Scholars and Graduates, A Family Get-Together