When Aaliyah was weighing leaving Haiti at age 7 to join other family members here, her mother, conscious of the opportunities this would mean for her daughter, encouraged her even though she herself would remain on the island. “My dreams became bigger,” Aaliyah wrote in an essay, “and like Mom said, working hard has been paying off. As I choose to work hard, many doors are opening every day.” That hard work is reflected in her 98 GPA. Calling Aaliyah “a tremendous leader,” one of her teachers wrote that she is “one of the most hardworking students I’ve seen in my career. When she sets her mind on something, there is no limit to what Aaliyah can accomplish.” A member of the debate team and the captain of the cheerleading club for three years, she has also set up a mental health club, “so that young adults like me have an outlet to express their true feelings without being dismissed.” “We want,” Aaliyah, says, “to destigmatize the topic of mental health.” Her eventual goals are in the medical field. “I want to be part of a great community that does great things,” she says, adding that she wants “to be a beacon to those who believe things are impossible.”

Aaliyah has too many wonderful teachers to choose just one. She says “she is grateful to them all.” 

Many thanks to New York Community Trust for sponsoring Aaliyah through her college journey.