No matter where their journeys take them, we stand beside our graduates as they go after their goals. We love to shine the spotlight on our alumni—and who better to do just that than our current students who will one day walk in their footsteps? 

KIPP Newark Lab High School junior Tassana Dorrah and KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy senior Fadloullah Adome spoke with two alumni pursuing different paths to learn how their time at KIPP influenced them and what it takes to excel after high school. Step inside their conversations!

A Conversation With Jada Lemon

Fadloullah Adome, a recent graduate of KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy

By Fadloullah Adome

Everyone’s journey is fraught with challenges - this is a given and a constant. However, it is the way we face those challenges and the people we surround ourselves with that determines how capable we are of overcoming challenges and growing as people. As a senior at KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy (NCA), I’ve discovered that it’s the teachers we meet, the friends we surround ourselves with, and a belief in ourselves and our potential that defines our journey. 

Jada Lemon, KIPP Alum

Jada Lemon, a KIPP NCA alumna and sophomore at Howard University, agrees with that notion. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lemon about her experiences at college and with KIPP New Jersey. We discussed the ways great teachers impacted our journeys and the power of learning to advocate for ourselves. According to Jada, “Learning self-advocacy was imperative to my growth. As a student, I was capable, but sometimes struggled with my confidence, so my teachers, particularly Mark Joseph (AKA MoJo!) at KIPP Rise Academy, went above and beyond to help me regain my confidence in subjects like math. I’ll never forget his kindness.” I agree that self-advocacy is an underrated skill in life. We often don’t have all the skills or resources to complete our tasks, so being able to call upon other people to assist us is imperative.

As students of NCA, we’ve both experienced how far teachers will go to support students. In the latter stage of her high school journey, Lemon met Mr. McKenzie, the AP Calculus teacher and a 13-year NCA founding veteran teacher. “Whenever he had time, Mr. McKenzie would help tutor us so we better understood the content,” said Lemon. “He helped us all prepare for the AP exams and sometimes even sacrificed a weekend to help us study.” Lemon added that Mr. McKenzie was easy to speak with, even on casual topics. 

As a student today in Mr. McKenzie’s AP Calculus BC class, I can personally attest to everything Ms.Lemon mentioned. I believe teachers like Mr. McKenzie can be an anchor for students. They are educators and great mentors - they can also become great friends. KIPP is full of them. As I concluded my conversation with Lemon, I asked her what advice she has for  current high school students. Her response?  “Have faith in your process, it’s completely your own. Don’t compare your timeframe to everyone else’s timeframe. Everything is unique to you. Everything you do matters. Have faith in yourself.” 

More than anything, one’s path is solely their own. Our success will always be tied to who we let ourselves be. Fortunately, KIPP employs many great teachers who care for the kids within each building. Having faith and the ability to both rely on others and be of assistance to them is a surefire way to success. 

The Path to Career, With Reggie Henderson

By Tassana Dorrah

Tassana Dorrah, 11th grader at KIPP Newark Lab High School

I am currently an 11th grade student-athlete at KIPP Newark Lab High School. I enjoy playing basketball and someday, after I wrap up my athletic career, I want to have my own business designing and selling my own clothing and shoe lines. My teachers at Lab, like Ms. Lewis and Ms. McRae, are supportive of my career path and are helping me achieve my goals—even if I don’t choose a college pathway. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a KIPP Newark alumnus, Reginald Henderson (Reggie). I enjoyed talking to Reggie because he’s a role model for the types of steps I should take after high school, like seeking out career programs that will support me reaching my goals. 

Reginald Henderson, KIPP Alum

I asked Reggie what he learned at KIPP NCA that he applied to life after graduation. He said, “I learned how to make decisions for myself. I believe in the mantra that ‘you are who you are when no one is looking,’ and think you should follow your own path in life that is authentic to you.” He added, “KIPP helped me understand that not everyone wants to follow the same path and that pursuing a career is a valid pathway. Going to KIPP helped mold me into a more independent person that I am today.”  

Today, Reggie works for Merck Pharmaceuticals in the eDiscovery department and supports attorneys with data storage needs. He helps make sure that data is properly stored and records are transferred between computers so he burns data from staff computers onto CD’s for storage.

Next, we spoke about his training program at Lincoln Tech. Reggie said he liked that it was more hands-on and that he got to complete an internship at T2 Computer. “I’m a visual learner, so I was glad that during COVID-19 we got to mostly continue with in-person learning. Even when we did virtual classes, they still offered me the chance to work one-on-one with their teachers if I needed extra help,” said Reggie.

Reggie also appreciated his time at KIPP NCA and the teachers there. “My acting teacher, Mrs. T (TaNisha Fordham), motivated me to become the person I am today. I used to be shy, but now I’m more social thanks to her influence," he said. The other person who offered support was Reggie's career counselor, Mr. Mettle. "He helped me at my lowest points and stood by me to support my career, with everything from coaching me on interview questions to how to go about applying to jobs. He was there every step of the way. Mr. Mettle and Mrs. T were like my school parents!” said Reggie.

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