In June of this year, KIPP High School (KHS) will mark a critical milestone as it graduates its inaugural class of seniors. Launching a new high school amid a global pandemic presented a challenge for students and teachers, but today the class of 2024 is focused on the future — and they have big plans in the works. 

Director of College and Career Placement Kenny Reyes and his team of KIPP Forward counselors help shepherd those plans to reality. “While we know that a four-year degree often provides greater earning potential over time, we want every student to find a pathway that suits their goals. I’ve seen the excitement about college build for this class; students who were weighing two-year degree options saw their peers apply for four-year colleges and started to move in that direction, too” he said, adding that college excitement is also trickling down to next year’s junior class.

The KIPP Forward Camden team. From left to right, Alysha Wilson, Kenny Reyes, Taylor Davis, Malik Harris-Daniels, Destiny Bingham, and Selenia Bernier. (Not pictured: Marquita Alston and Latanya Clement).

KIPP Forward counselor Malik Harris-Daniels graduated from KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy in 2016. “Working in this role has been my dream job since college. It’s been a privilege to work with the class of 2024; I want them to know that the obstacles they’ve faced won’t defeat them, but make them unique. I want them to strive to reach their definition of success,” he said.

Check out what’s next for these five founding members of the class of 2024!

Liliana Nemorio-Cruz

Liliana Nemorio-Cruz’s senior year is proving busy: she’s applied to more than 30 colleges, acted as a Student Council grade level representative and social chair, and has completed more than 50 hours of community service. On top of that, she translates for Spanish-speaking families at parent-teacher conferences at her alma mater, KIPP Lanning Square Middle each quarter. How does she balance it all? “I’m a to-do list enthusiast,” she said.  

As of this writing, Nemorio-Cruz is still waiting to hear back from a competitive roster of colleges (Tufts University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Barnard College to name just a few), but she’s already secured several acceptances. “I wanted to reach high for college. I appreciate my counselor Ms. Bingham for helping me highlight my passion for writing in my applications. I felt proud being able to share my story,” said Nemorio-Cruz.   

Jaden Nazario

Jaden Nazario enrolled at KIPP High School after spending his middle school years at KIPP Whittier Middle (today called KIPP Hatch Middle). For Nazario, being a KHS founder has also meant an opportunity to spearhead clubs based on interests he shared with his peers. A former football player, Nazario pivoted to founding the film and media club with his friends, born after the group completed a film project over a summer break. Today, the club meets twice each week and is working on a film (currently under wraps!) that will be shared with the student body later this spring.  

When it came to the college admissions process, Nazario was originally stressed by the idea of leaving his home city. “I don’t often leave Camden, but I recently became more adventurous and willing to step outside my comfort zone,” he said. “Applying to and then actually attending a college that’s out of state will be a new experience for me, but I’m excited to study at Lycoming College next year,” Nazario added. He will build on his foundation at KHS next year, studying filmmaking as a member of Lycoming’s class of 2028. 

Lyrique Iverson

When asked why she chose to attend KIPP High School, Lyrique Iverson’s answer was simple: “I felt most myself here. KIPP is like a second home to me.” 

Iverson is pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse as one of the founding members of the Healthcare Academy at KHS, which aims to expose students to healthcare careers. The medical assistant certification program operates in partnership with the American Training Center, whose staff visits KHS several times a week for a full morning of classes that expose students to the anatomy and physiology curriculum. Students who complete the program will become certified medical assistants, an immediate pathway to job opportunities. 

“I never thought that in high school, I’d be learning how to take a patient’s pulse, oxygen saturation, or blood pressure. It’s amazing and I love it,” she said. Iverson’s ultimate goal is to be a supportive presence for her patients as a nurse. “Going to a hospital is such a scary experience for people, but I don’t want anybody to feel alone. I’m a people person, and I want to be there to support my patients,” said Iverson. 

Aaizon Trusty

Aaizon Trusty’s early positive experiences with KIPP Whittier Middle, with teachers like Ms. Brown and field trips to spots like Washington D.C. helped make KHS a natural next step. 

A defensive lineman for the KHS Titans football team, today Trusty’s post-graduation plans center his passion for athletics. He hopes to one day become a sports broadcaster or team manager, and his KIPP Forward counselor Malik Harris-Daniels has offered guidance on that journey. “Mr. Malik pushed me in the college application process and made sure I had a strong personal statement. Nobody in my family has graduated college, so I’ll be the first one. It’s exciting,” said Trusty. 

As he weighs his college options, he’s leaning toward Albright University in Reading, Pennsylvania, which boasts a sports management program. “KIPP has grown so much since I started there in fifth grade, and I’ve grown with it,” he said.  

Asaahd Morton 

“After high school, even if I don’t change the whole world, I want to make it a better place in small ways by connecting with people,” said Asaahd Morton. 

Morton is already well on his way to achieving that vision. Whether by working alongside his uncle to operate a community dog shelter or helping his elderly neighbors mow their lawns, Morton shows up for the people in his life and community and says that over the years, the KIPP community has shown up for him. “When I first started in fifth grade, reading was a challenge for me, but teachers at KIPP Whittier Middle got me to a higher level and built up my confidence,” said Morton. 

After graduation, he hopes to follow the path of his father and uncle and explore career opportunities in construction or landscaping, in addition to his work at the shelter. His KIPP Forward counselor Taylor Davis has supported him along that journey. “Ms. Davis is a real inspiration. I greet her every morning and she’s given me great advice, encouraging me to be confident and never back down,” said Morton.

As middle school students in 2019, Jaden Nazario (left) and Aaizon Trusty (right) joined the Eagles leadership and players in celebrating the opening of a new turf field at KIPP Lanning Square Middle. “KIPP has grown so much since I started there in fifth grade, and I’ve grown with it,” said Trusty.  

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