This summer, more than one hundred rising KIPP New Jersey seniors participated in programs that took them to colleges as far north as Providence, Rhode Island, and as far south as Nashville, Tennessee. 

The students were members of KIPP NJ’s Future Leaders Cohort, which supports students who meet GPA requirements as they identify, apply, and fund summer experiences on college campuses across the country. 

KIPP Forward Associate Director Onaje Crawford and a team of counselors help connect students to these opportunities, which are designed to support their knowledge of the college application process and give them a taste of campus life. “We help students identify programs that match their interests and work with them and their families throughout the application process, which mirrors the applications they’ll complete in the Fall,” said Crawford. 

Below, hear from students in Camden and Newark who completed a program this summer!

Boyce and a peer on Yale University's historic campus.

Shakir Boyce 
Senior, KIPP High School

This summer, Shakir Boyce’s experience at Yale University's Young Global Scholars program studying literature, philosophy, and culture confirmed his desire to attend a liberal arts college. The program's distinctive lecture-discussion format allowed Boyce to interact with industry professionals, authors, and former Yale professors.

“We had a nice mix of learning from the lecturers and then digesting what we learned later with our peers through discussion,” he said. His favorite lecture? One that focused on the ‘cult of productivity.’ “We learned how Benjamin Franklin was really a founder of that school of thought. I really enjoyed that discussion,” said Boyce. His interactions with peers from around the world added a global perspective to the experience. "Everyone I met there was so open-minded and I enjoyed hearing their ideas and sharing my own,” he said.

Boyce appreciated the support of his KIPP Forward college counselor Destiny Bingham for connecting him to the program and a scholarship. “Without Ms. Bingham’s guidance, I wouldn’t know about this opportunity and this program wouldn’t have been accessible to me,” he said.

As he looks ahead to his senior year, Boyce will continue his college application journey—with Yale on his list of targets. While he hopes to study business or economics, he prefers to do so at a liberal arts college where he can hone his writing skills.

Nemorio-Cruz poses with a classic sculpture on UPenn's campus.

Lilliana Nemorio-Cruz
Senior, KIPP High School

Lilliana Nemorio-Cruz had a busy summer: She participated in three programs that aligned with her interests and supported her college application journey. As a Questbridge College Prep Scholar, Nemorio-Cruz started her summer in Atlanta, Georgia, attending the National College Admissions Conference, where she networked with admissions officers and learned all about the college application process.

With support from KIPP Forward counselors Destiny Bingham and Kenny Reyes, Nemorio-Cruz was accepted to Georgetown University's Summer Immersion Program in Washington, D.C. for three weeks. There, her packed schedule included SAT prep, college writing, and even computer science courses. “I enjoyed learning how to code in Python for the first time, and everyone there was really supportive of my learning," said Nemorio-Cruz. 

Her final experience was at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, where she collaborated on a finance project with peers. Together, Nemorio-Cruz and her group presented their recommendations on whether or not their audience should invest in Adidas stock. “I learned a lot about business. The math was difficult for me, but I learned to advocate for myself and ask questions,” said Nemorio-Cruz. 

With her sights set on studying computer science, finance, or dentistry in college, Nemorio-Cruz's summer experiences have equipped her with the knowledge she’ll need for a successful college application process this fall. 

Stacy Nwadiozor  
Senior, KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy 

With plans to become a financial analyst, Stacy Nwadiozor filled her summer with programs to learn more about finance. Stacy started with UPenn Accounting Institute, where she was introduced to the methods of the finance world. As she worked on a group project and learned from lecturers and Ph.D. students, Stacy confirmed her passion for finance. During the Accounting Institute program at Temple University, she networked and learned more about finance careers. “I met people outside of Newark and worked with people who had different backgrounds than me, which will prepare me for college,'' Stacy said about her favorite part of these programs. 

As a member of the Future Leaders Program, Stacy learned about these summer programs from KIPP Forward counselor Ms. Neely, who assisted her throughout the process. “To apply for UPenn’s program, I had to answer three financial questions and write an essay about what attributes I would bring to the program,” said Stacy.

Stacy plans to earn her bachelor's and master's degrees in Finance as she pursues her goal of working as a financial analyst for a major financial firm. 

Olayemi (right) with her peers at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

Susan Olayemi
Senior, KIPP Newark Lab High School

Susan Olayemi always dreamed of becoming a doctor, but last school year, a coding exposure program inspired her to pivot to a career path in technology. With this change, she embarked on a busy summer, completing one in-person program and three virtual programs that centered around technology. “I wanted to be sure that I was really interested in working in tech,” she said. 

During her virtual program with Girls Who Code, she worked in groups to learn about game design, interacting with her peers through Slack and phone conversations. Her next program was at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey where she took ‘Intro to Cybersecurity.’ “This was my favorite experience, I was able to stay on campus and really get a feel of what college is like,” said Olayemi. Finally, she completed the Knowledge House Coding Fellowship, learning about web design and building her portfolio. 

Olayemi received the support of her College Placement Counselor, Fedjounie Philippe throughout the application process for each program. “Ms. Philippe was such a big help in reviewing my essays, prepping me for interviews, and keeping up to date on my deadlines,” said Olayemi. 

She plans on applying to MIT for college to pursue her career in technology. “I want to encourage more students to apply to college programs since they offer exposure to college life and coursework. The process may be hard, but it’s worthwhile,” she said. 

Lapite (top, left) with peers at Brown University.

Olatunbosun Lapite 
Senior, KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy

This summer, Olatunbosun Lapite was able to explore his longstanding interest in artificial intelligence and computer science during the Summer@Brown at Brown University. From attending daily seminars to experiencing dorm life with a roommate, the program offered Lapite a sneak peek into college life.  

“Though I only had one class a day, I was able to attend workshops and activities that covered topics like applying for college, essay writing seminars, or fun trips to the aquarium, and museums. I learned how to balance free time and socializing with coursework,” said Lapite, who thinks that ability will support his success in college. Under the guidance of a Ph.D. student, Lapite learned about how advancements in robotics, AI, and computer science are affecting the world. He also enjoyed being able to explore new cities like Boston and socializing with other students who attended the program. 

As Lapite approached the application process, KIPP Forward counselor Fatima Neely checked in weekly to share updates and offer assistance. Excited as he starts his senior year, Olatunbos plans to apply to Brown early decision and major in computer science.  

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