Where Are They Now? Arnice Cottom (SEED DC ’11, Elizabeth City State University ’15, Trinity Washington University ’18) Pursues Her PhD

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When a student graduates from SEED, our relationship doesn’t end. We understand that every educational path looks different, and that’s why we support our graduates to and through college.  

Arnice Cottom (SEED DC ‘11) has secured her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Communications. She knows that even though she graduated from SEED eight years ago, she still has a team of advisors, mentors, and cheerleaders standing behind her every step of the way.

Amid studying and starting a career in marketing, Arnice still finds time to visit our office and to help design programming for SEED’s younger graduates. During one of her recent visits, she took a few minutes to share a bit about her journey at SEED.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Elizabeth City State University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in mass communications, with a concentration in advertising and public relations and a minor in music. I then attended Trinity Washington University, where I received my master’s in strategic communications and public relations.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

My transition from SEED to college was very interesting. When I started, I was excited about the freedom of being able to do what I wanted. But as I started to settle in, I realized that I needed to utilize all the skills that I learned at SEED (time management, studying skills, etc.) in order to truly take advantage of my college experience and excel. 

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

I was very connected to SEED while I was in college. Ms. Blacknall, my college success advisor, played a pivotal role in my success in my undergraduate career. When I was at my lowest point, being able to express myself to my advisor and the College Transition & Success Team was essential.

What are you doing now that you have graduated from college?  

I am a communications associate with the American Public Health Association in Washington, D.C. It’s nice to work in my field of study. I am also currently pursuing my PhD. I have applied to American University and hope to hear from them soon.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

For me, SEED was my extended family. I needed a village of supporters to help me grow into the person that I am today. I was exposed to new things both academically and personally, I gained skills that I still use to this day, and I was given opportunities to showcase my talents. Without SEED, I know I wouldn’t be where I am now.

What We’re Learning: Do You Know the Hidden Costs of College?

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Did you know that the cost of attendance at a public, four-year university has risen more than 200 percent over the last 20 years?

That’s why our College Transition & Success Team is here to support our graduates with navigating the college access and success process. This includes making sure our graduates are prepared for any potential financial pitfalls.   

We invite you to learn about the hidden costs of college, which can mean the difference between a college degree and debt without credentials.

Meet Our Students: Julius Moye (SEED DC ‘20) Sees Many Stars in His Future

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Julius Moye (SEED DC ‘20) began his journey at SEED as a sixth-grade scholar determined to become a college graduate. Now in his senior year, Julius credits SEED for giving him the resources and space to grow into an independent young adult.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the responsibilities I took on at SEED over the years.”

On campus, Julius is seen as a leader. For a second year, he will serve as a lead mentor in Peer Group Connection. In this role, he helps rising ninth-grade students adjust to living and studying at a boarding school. “I wasn’t sure if I was the best fit for this position, but as the year went on, I really began to love it. I decided to be a lead mentor again this year.” 

When asked what his ideal career would be, all roads lead to space—literally!

Julius has dreams of exploring the stars above us. He has always been passionate about science and space exploration, and with the guidance of his teacher, Julius signed up for space camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in seventh grade. This experience deepened Julius’s desire to study astronomy. “Space camp was an amazing experience! I would love to work for NASA one day.”

As Julius approaches high school graduation, he wants to enroll in college as a computer science or mathematics major. “I’m looking forward to working with my college counselor, Mr. Jordan Frasier, and getting his advice on what colleges are the right fit for me.”     

We’re so proud of Julius’s progress! Julius is one of SEED’s 2020 scholarship recipients, and we are certain he will achieve his dreams. “I understand the importance of getting good grades. I’ve been given so many opportunities because of my grades, and I really am looking forward to also excelling in college.”   

Our Impact: SEED’s Values Bind Us Together

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The glue that binds the SEED community together is our core values and beliefs. In June, we rolled out our updated core values at our SEED Summit—an annual all-staff retreat.

We also kicked off the school year by proudly displaying our values on each campus and hosting conversations with students about living our values every day.

As a member of our SEED community, we wanted to share with you our values and beliefs. Please take a look.

I show RESPECT for all people by being civil, cordial, courteous, and having unconditional appreciation for the value and dignity of all people and things.

I display RESPONSIBILITY by taking ownership and being accountable for my words, actions, and results.

I exemplify PERSEVERANCE by having steady commitment, persistence, and patience, even when there are obstacles or discouragement.

I act with INTEGRITY by being honest and fair and doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

I exhibit COMPASSION by showing concern and empathy, being helpful, and supporting others.

I show GRATITUDE by extending kindness and expressing appreciation for the gifts, time, and talent of others. 

I demonstrate GROWTH through my commitment to excellence, continuous improvement, and learning.

Where Are They Now? Patrice Willis (SEED DC ‘06, Ohio Wesleyan University ‘10), Has the Career of Her Dreams

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“My time at SEED gave me the best possible path to college, and now I have a career that I love.” For us, there’s nothing better than hearing about our graduates’ successes. 

Patrice Willis (SEED DC ‘06) is one SEED graduate who has fulfilled her dreams. With SEED’s guidance, she had the tools to effectively navigate the college access and success process. Today, she has the job of her dreams. “I always wanted to go to college. And because of SEED, I had the right supports which helped to make my dreams come true.”

We love to hear from our graduates and learn about their transitions from college to career. Patrice recently met with us to share her journey. 

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where I majored in journalism. 

How was your transition from SEED to college? 

My transition was pretty easy. I felt academically prepared because of the study habits I learned at SEED. I also felt comfortable with jumping right into a new environment. At SEED, I was a part of several clubs and extra-curriculum activities including basketball, tennis, cheerleading, yearbook, and I was the school mascot. These experiences helped with my transition.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

Yes, I did! Ms. Vincena Allen, chief growth officer and a founding staff member of the College Transition & Success program, reached out to me every month when I was in college. I received gift baskets and in-person visits as well. She helped me with everything from financial aid to my resume. She also provided a listening ear when I had a challenge in school or a rough day. Honestly, as the College Transition & Success (CTS) team expanded, anyone in the office was available when I needed them. 

What did you after graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University?

Currently, I am a kindergarten teacher, and I love it! I’m also going back to school to obtain a master’s degree. My goal is to become a school counselor.

How did your experience at SEED impact you? 

My counselors made me feel like I was a star. They made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to do and that there was always going to be someone in my corner. This individualized support paired with classes like Senior Seminar helped us fill out college applications and apply for scholarships—it really made a difference.

Touring several different colleges and being surrounded by college graduates and mentors really motivated me to find the school that fit me best.

What We’re Learning: Our SEED Scholars are Going Global

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 “Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” – Matthew Karsten

According to Rustic Pathways, international travel is a major catalyst in encouraging students to think critically, identify their interests and passions, gain a global perspective, and practice cultural sensitivity.

Gaining exposure to the world at a young age can help to inspire a college major and create a life-long passion. A study by The National Association for Education found that 81 percent of students who traveled abroad in middle or high school went on to pursue a college degree.

At SEED, experiential learning is a core component of our college-prep programming. We offer our students more than 100 experiential learning opportunities each year. In fact, this summer, over 50 SEED scholars traveled to countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, and Japan to embark on life-changing experiences.

While abroad, our students learn foreign languages, participate in mission-based projects to aid residents, take on new challenges, and build their international networks. These experiences have equipped our scholars with the tools they need to succeed in today’s global economy.

Here’s what some of our scholars had to say about their trips this summer:

Going to Brazil was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were accepted with open arms like we were home; it was amazing!

-          Vincent Jordan (SEED DC ‘20) - Onda Solidária/SEED Exchange Brazil

“The highlight of my time in Japan was the homestay. I had a very good family. I met lots of people that are now my good friends. This experience has encouraged me to meet new people from different backgrounds. I’m so thankful to SEED for giving me this opportunity.

-          ChrisJonaye Woodland (SEED DC ‘21) - The Experiment in International Living (EIL) Japan

“Brazil is an amazing place to travel...the beaches, mountains, museums, and the opportunity to learn Portuguese! Anyone would love it here!”

-          Keyondre Joyner (SEED DC ‘21) - Onda Solidária/SEED Exchange Brazil

 “My experience was phenomenal! I tried new things and learned so much about Brazilian culture. I also met a lot of cool people who have encouraged me to do different things and get out of my comfort zone.”

-          Antoine Washington (SEED DC ‘22) Onda Solidária/SEED Exchange Brazil

Learn more about SEED’s Experiential Learning and External Opportunities program.  

Our Impact: It’s Time for Bootcamp: College Edition!

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It’s hard to believe that summer will be over soon. For SEED scholars, that means no more sleeping in late and a lot more homework!

Between August 12 – 26, SEED schools will reopen. We’re excited to welcome a new class of students to our campuses in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Miami.  We’re also excited to reunite with our incoming SEED seniors who will be off to college in 10 short months!

For SEED seniors, the school year will start with a bang. On September 4 – 5, we’ll convene our annual College Prep Bootcamp at a college campus in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

The goal of our annual College Prep Bootcamp is to provide all SEED seniors with the information they need to apply to, enroll, and persist in college. Key workshops include writing a college essay; choosing a “right-fit” college; applying for financial aid and scholarships; navigating race, equity, and identity on college campuses; and more. The event also provides seniors with time to reconnect with old friends and make new friends to support each other during the school year. 

In addition to learning the ropes of the college application process, College Prep Bootcamp attendees are exposed to experiential learning opportunities. For example, last year they participated in a real ropes course during a trip to Terrapin Adventures in Maryland!

“Through the College Prep Bootcamp for seniors, we provide our scholars with a two-day intensive workshop experience where we dive deeply into key concepts of the college application and submission process,” said Ms. Baker Jones, director of college transition & success. “We set a high bar for our students and give them the direction they need so that someday they can achieve their college dreams.”

Since 2016, over 100 SEED seniors have participated in College Prep Bootcamp. To learn more about how you can help SEED scholars start school year 2020 right, check out our Back to College Prep Boarding School campaign!

Meet Our Students: Destiny Joyner (SEED ‘23) Reached New Heights on Top of Mayan Ruins

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Well before her first day as a student at The SEED School of Maryland, Destiny Joyner (SEED MD ‘23) was no stranger to SEED. She watched her two sisters flourish as SEED students and successfully chart their paths to a college degree. Following in their footsteps, Destiny is focused on achieving her full potential and has set her education as a top priority.

A straight-A student, Destiny finds it important to surround herself with the right friends. “Each semester, my friends and I compete to see who can get the highest GPA. It keeps us on our toes.” Because of SEED’s 24-hour learning environment, she has built strong bonds with her classmates and student life counselors. "Living with each other brings everyone close together. We really feel more like family than classmates."

This summer, Destiny traveled to Belize with SEED MD’s External Opportunities program in partnership with Girls Going Global, a nonprofit organization seeking to address the disparity of girls of color in international education and travel. For a week, Destiny was immersed in Central American culture, which is heavily influenced by the ancient Mayan civilization. She was intrigued by the Mayan’s holistic way of living and discovered how these traditions are still practiced in modern day Belize. Her most memorable experience was climbing to the top of a Mayan temple constructed in 1,000 B.C.! “The Mayan Ruins were really steep! – Getting to the top was hard, but once we made it, everyone felt accomplished.”  

As the summer ends, Destiny is excited to begin her first year as a high school student and looks forward to seeing more of the world.  

Our Impact: SEED’s College Transition & Success Team Aims to Freeze “Summer Melt”

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SEED schools may be out for the summer, but we are still hard at work supporting our graduates in completing their college enrollments and heading to a right fit college in the fall. In short, our College Transition & Success team is making sure that none of our students experience “summer melt.” 

Summer melt occurs when a student is accepted to a postsecondary institution but fails to complete enrollment or attend.

“Up to one third of all students who leave high school with plans to attend college never arrive at any college campus that fall. Summer melt tends to hit low-income students hardest, as well as students who are the first in their family to go to college.”U.S. Department of Education

Here are just a few strategies we are employing to help our newly minted SEED graduates get to college this fall.

-          Upon graduation, each SEED student is paired with a College Transition & Success (CTS) advisor. CTS advisors provide the intrusive advising and support that scholars need to persist through college—from acceptance to graduation.

-          Students work with their CTS advisors to execute all the details necessary to start college, including creating a plan to pay for the first semester. Students work with their advisors to complete financial aid documents, assess their college bills, and address any financial gaps. For some students, this means forwarding scholarship award letters in order to reduce the total bill; for others, it means choosing a more affordable college or university to attend.

-          In addition to figuring out how to pay tuition and making those first payments, students work with their CTS advisors to buy or rent books and supplies. They must also submit health forms and deposits for orientation and housing. Also, CTS advisors help students secure transportation to campus for move-in days.

-          Finally, students work with their advisors to submit their final high school transcripts, a requirement for all postsecondary institutions.

“In order to ensure that our students and families are informed and have all the resources they need to be successful in college, we work diligently with them over the summer,” said Joi Baker Jones, director of College Transition & Success.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! But summer isn’t only about paying bills and completing forms, it’s also the time when The SEED Foundation Scholarship recipients receive their awards. This August, 15 scholarship recipients from the class of 2019 will receive a total of $45,000 in awards for freshman year.

“Becoming a college freshman is a lot of work,” said Ms. Baker Jones, “but the careful planning is worth it. When we visit our graduates in the fall, we love to see them settling in and prepared for campus life.”

Where Are They Now? Alexis Holloway (SEED DC ‘10, Trinity Washington University ‘15)

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“SEED is my family.” This is a common refrain we hear from our graduates.

Alexis Holloway (SEED DC ’10) shares this sentiment. For her, the bonds she has built at SEED are irreplaceable. “SEED has had a tremendous impact on me. I gained lifelong friends that I now consider family, and I was surrounded by staff who wanted the best for me. I’m proud to give back to a community that gave to me.”

Last month, Alexis’s commitment to supporting upcoming SEED graduates was honored at The SEED School of Washington, D.C.’s 2019 graduation. She received the 2019 Letia Naylor Graduate Achievement Award, which recognizes a member of the SEED community for their outstanding service, dedication to educational improvement, extraordinary professional accomplishments, and continued support of the SEED mission.

In March, she also received a special chair at SEED DC’s annual Founders Day celebration for her four years of service and dedication to the SEED community.

We recently caught up with Alexis to learn about her college journey and why she remains committed to SEED.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Trinity Washington University, where I majored in criminal justice.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

I was initially planning to attend Virginia Tech, but the financial aid package they offered wasn’t enough. With the help of my SEED college success advisor, I decided to stay in Washington, D.C., and I enrolled at Trinity Washington University. Once enrolled at Trinity, my transition from being a high school student to a college student was very smooth. Trinity offered small class sizes that were similar to my classes at SEED. I also had support from my professors and the administrative staff.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

I definitely stayed connected to SEED while in college and after I graduated. Immediately after graduating from Trinity, I was given the opportunity to work at SEED with [Assistant Head of School] Stacey Pearl, when she was director of student support services. I’ve been working at SEED ever since and have held many roles. I now serve as the school receptionist at SEED DC.

What did you do after graduating from Trinity Washington University?

I started to work at SEED right after graduation. As the school receptionist at SEED DC, I serve as the first face our students, families, staff, and supporters see. I love this role because I get to know everyone in the SEED DC community.

This year, I also served as a senior supporter for two SEED students. Working along with our college counselor, I helped each student with the college transition process and served as a mentor. I feel like I am making an impact by being there, listening, and by sharing my personal experience as a former SEED student. My hope is to inspire our students to be their best.

Meet Our Students: Harri-Anna Derulos (SEED Miami ‘21) Has Big Plans to Become a Lawyer

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Harri-Anna is pictured above third from the right.

Harri-Anna Derulos (SEED Miami ’21) enrolled at SEED because of its track record in helping underserved students successfully get to and through college. She is determined to be the first person in her family to become a college graduate, and as an honor-roll student, she is well on her way.

A natural leader, Harri-Anna served as class president for two consecutive years. During her tenure, she advocated for better catering that would offer more diverse and healthy dining options. Her strategy worked! The school now offers a greater variety of food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the students to enjoy.

Harri-Anna is one of the most dedicated students I’ve had the pleasure of working with. She’s constantly pushing herself to maintain her academic and personal successes,” said Kiara Muhammad, student life counselor at SEED Miami.

Harri-Anna is also a SEED ambassador. In this role, she serves as an official student representative for The SEED School of Miami and hosts tours for prospective donors, incoming SEED students, and prospective families. Alongside her mother, who is a parent champion, Harri-Anna hosted representatives from one of SEED Miami’s largest donor organizations. Her personal testimony has been vital to individuals looking to gain a better understanding of SEED’s impact.

One of Harri-Anna’s most rewarding experiences has been participating in SEED Miami’s Mock Trial. This program is offered through SEED Miami’s Sparks program, which is a component of the school’s student life curriculum. In Mock Trial, Harri-Anna learned about the key elements of a trial—and the U.S. legal system—through preparing for and participating in simulated trial competitions. This experience has inspired Harri-Anna to want to earn a Juris Doctor after completing her undergraduate education.

We’re proud of Harri-Anna’s accomplishments and excited to be a part of her continued success!

Learn more about SEED Miami’s Sparks program.

SEED Graduate Feature: Christopher Miller (SEED MD ’15, Allegheny College ‘19) Lands a Career at New York City Tech Firm

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Graduation day at SEED is incredibly special. There’s nothing like the privilege of watching our scholars grow from eager sixth-grade students to resilient young adults who have earned their college degrees.

This year, we celebrated the achievements of 16 graduates from The SEED School of Washington, D.C., such as Nailah Gallego (SEED DC ’08, Brown University ‘12, Meharry Medical College ‘19), who secured her Doctor of Medicine degree. We also celebrated the success of our first class of college graduates from The SEED School of Maryland.  One of the SEED MD graduates is Christopher Miller (SEED MD ’15, Allegheny College ‘19). His college experience, which helped him land a career as a software engineer at a tech firm in New York City, was recently featured by Allegheny College.

Read this short interview to learn more about Chris and his journey to becoming a college graduate.

Where Are They Now? Jeremiah Paige (SEED MD ’15, Mount St. Mary’s University ’19)

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In July 2008, The SEED School of Maryland welcomed its first class of sixth graders. By attending Maryland’s first public college-preparatory boarding school, these students were making history.

After nearly seven years of rigorous academics, social and enrichment programs, and college exposure, every single graduate was accepted to a four-year college. But their journey with SEED wasn’t complete. To ensure that each graduate persisted through college, SEED provided each student with a college success advisor to serve as their personal advocate, mentor, and cheerleader from move-in day to graduation day.

This year, we celebrate SEED MD’s first class of college graduates and the fruition of SEED’s vision—to get our students to and through college. One of these graduates is Jeremiah Paige (SEED MD ’15). For him, SEED served as a reminder of his ability to achieve at the highest level. “SEED taught us that we could accomplish anything we wanted. This mindset pushed me to invest in and explore my passion for music as a student at Mount St. Mary’s.”

Last month, Jeremiah served as the keynote speaker for the 2019 SEED Foundation Scholarship Reception. He offered words of encouragement to SEED’s next graduating class and reminded them that wherever they go, they can find comfort in knowing that SEED is always there. Read the short interview below to learn more about Jeremiah’s college journey and where he is now.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Mount St. Mary’s University, where I majored in communications and minored in business.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

My transition to college hit me hard. I felt like I was all alone. I couldn’t see my mother every weekend, and I was no longer with my SEED family five days a week. However, I soon realized that no matter the distance, my biological and SEED families would always be there. Mrs. Baker Jones, my SEED college success advisor, constantly reached out to me, came to visit, and even took me out to eat!

I found SEED’s approach of intrusive advising helpful when I started at Mount St. Mary’s. It was great to have someone on my side who genuinely cared about my success. If I had issues with my financial aid or classes, they were there to listen and provide support.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

I would often go and visit my former counselors at SEED MD to play basketball. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with my former classmates through SEED-sponsored events like the SEED Graduate Institute and annual bowling party.

What are your plans for the future?

As a recent college graduate, I feel that the possibilities are endless. I am interested in pursuing my passion for music. While at Mount St. Mary’s, I had the opportunity to perform all over campus and even opened for artist O.T. Genasis. These experiences made me want to further express my creative abilities. I’m dedicated to remaining productive and making the most of the connections I’ve made while in school.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

SEED prepared me for college academically. As a senior at SEED, I participated in a dual-enrollment program at Morgan State University. I saw the campus up close, met professors, and took classes with other college kids. This experience gave me an early look at college life and increased my interest in continuing my education.

Beyond academic preparation, the constant encouragement I received from my SEED counselors made a big difference. At the time, I didn’t appreciate their firmness, but as an adult I find myself implementing their advice. I am the person I am today because of SEED, and I am thankful for my experience.

What We’re Learning: SEED Miami Recruits Its First College Counselor

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Becoming a college graduate is no easy feat. This is especially true for low-income, first-generation students who must overcome barriers such as financial challenges and balancing family and personal priorities.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 67 percent of low-income, first-generation students enroll in college, yet only 11 percent successfully earn a college degree. Without a degree, these students won’t be equipped to succeed in the 21st-century economy, will make nearly $1 million less in their lifetime compared to their peers, and will struggle to reach their full potential.

At SEED, we know that college readiness services are crucial to college success. That’s why our College Transition & Success team works diligently to ensure that every SEED student has the tools, support, and knowledge to effectively navigate the college application process and adjust to college life. This year, The SEED School of Miami will welcome its first college counselor to prepare for its inaugural graduating class in 2021. “We’re so excited to be in the final stages of selecting our founding college counselor,” said Luna Otero, director of talent management at SEED Miami. As a member of the College Transition & Success team, SEED Miami’s college counselor will provide personalized assistance with searching for scholarships, researching universities, and navigating any challenges the school’s students face when applying to college.

We look forward to welcoming this new team member to the SEED community, as they will play a pivotal role in the academic success of our scholars.

Our Impact: SEED DC Scholar-Artists Are Headed to Scotland!

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Educating the whole student is a priority for SEED—and The SEED Falcon Theatre is a great example of our work to promote the creative and performing arts to all SEED students, regardless of artistic ability.

The SEED Falcon Theatre was selected to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the summer of 2020. This is a huge honor and the second time that Falcon Theatre has received this invitation. The annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest and most prestigious arts festivals in the world and includes over 3,000 different performances by artists from all over the world.

This spring, Falcon Theatre also traveled to Sacramento, California, for the Junior Theater Festival, a musical theater adjudication festival that brings together over 2,000 students from 42 schools representing multiple states and countries.

SEED DC scholar and SEED Foundation Scholarship recipient De’Nayia Bennett (SEED DC ‘19) kicked off the festival by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to thunderous applause. In addition, SEED scholars Malik Ivey (SEED DC ‘19) and Leona Greene (SEED DC ‘22) were selected as Performance All-Stars.

Congratulations to all the SEED DC scholar-artists who participated in The SEED Falcon Theatre this year. We’d like to especially thank Dr. LaMar Bagley, artistic director of Falcon Theatre, who has dedicated the last 14 years of his performing arts career to developing and nurturing SEED DC artists.

P.S. This summer, The SEED Falcon Theatre will perform at the DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival, which runs from June 21 to July 7. Mark your calendar and check out the show!

Meet Our Students: Yazmine Ali (SEED DC '20) Dreams of Becoming a Cardiovascular Surgeon

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Eleventh grade is a crucial year for college-bound students nationwide. Balancing classes, extracurricular activities, and the preliminary phases of college admissions can seem nearly impossible, yet Yazmine Ali (SEED DC ‘20) has found a way to make it work.

In addition to being an honor-roll student, Yazmine is an active member of The SEED Falcon Theatre and the SEED Falcon volleyball, soccer, and track teams. Her involvement with extracurricular activities at SEED doesn’t end there—Yazmine is also a Peer Group Connection leader. In this role, she mentors and gives advice to incoming ninth-grade students who are adjusting to the rigor of SEED’s high school courses. “I love being involved with Peer Group Connection. It feels great to know that I’m helping to ease the transition for our incoming students.”

Yazmine’s leadership extends beyond SEED’s incoming ninth graders. She has already racked up more than 70 community service hours by volunteering at DC Central Kitchen, where she assists with cooking and packaging meals for the elderly, homeless, and ill. Yazmine has also traveled to Santana do Deserto, Brazil, with SEED DC’s Experiential Learning & External Opportunities program. Her most memorable moment from the trip was aiding a young boy suffering from a severe cut on his foot. She cleaned and bandaged his wound and provided him with a pair of her own socks to protect the injury and reduce the risk of infection. This experience, coupled with her internship at Children’s National Hospital, has inspired Yazmine to declare a biology pre-med major in pursuit of her dream to become a cardiovascular surgeon.

Clearly Yazmine is on the path to success, and her accomplishments have led to being a recipient of the 2020 SEED Foundation Scholarship! We admire her ambition and look forward to learning which college she will be heading to in fall 2020.

Meet Our Students: SEED Ambassador Jadyn Peterson (SEED MD ’21) to Broaden Her Horizons in Kingston, Jamaica

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Jadyn Peterson (SEED MD ’21) began her journey with The SEED School of Maryland as a seventh-grade student, after relocating from Washington, DC, to Baltimore with her mother. Now a sophomore, Jadyn feels SEED’s 24-hour learning environment has brought a college education within her reach. She plans to double major in architectural engineering and sports management at Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama. “College is something I used to look up to, but because of SEED, it’s something I look forward to,” said Jadyn.

Jadyn has always looked for new opportunities to engage with the SEED community. Her passion for sports motivated her to become a team manager for the SEED Saber volleyball and basketball teams. As a team manager, Jadyn regularly meets with the director of athletics to discuss the outcomes of each game, provide individual player statistics, and give feedback on how the athletes can improve.

One of Jadyn’s most memorable moments at SEED was being selected as a SEED Ambassador. SEED Ambassadors serve as official student representatives for SEED schools. Since becoming a SEED Ambassador, Jadyn has led campus tours for prospective SEED scholars, their families, and donors. She has also served as a mentor for incoming students and attended job fairs with the human resources team to help recruit staff and faculty.

Jadyn is a well-known scholar at SEED MD and has built relationships with several staff members. Her student life counselor, Adaobi Ezeani, has seen Jadyn mature over the years. “Jadyn is an amazing student. Watching her become a phenomenal young lady has been a wonderful experience,” said Ms. Ezeani.

This summer, Jadyn will spend a week in Kingston, Jamaica—an opportunity provided by SEED MD’s Experiential Learning & External Opportunities program. She’ll engage in botanical research and explore Kingston’s Hope Zoo, which features indigenous animals and species from across the world. Her cohort will also visit an all-girls shelter to provide clothing and resources to young women in need.

Jadyn is a leader among her peers, and she consistently sets a positive example for younger students. We’re honored to have her as a member of the SEED family and are eager to see her excel in her college career.

Our Impact: Can You Say, “Road Trip”?!

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Getting to and through college is no small feat. That’s why we do everything we can to set our students up for success.

This year, the college counselors and college success advisors from SEED’s College Transition & Success team hosted 70 SEED juniors on the annual college tour for juniors. Students from SEED DC and SEED MD visited seven colleges, including Albertus Magnus College, Amherst College, Rider University, Rutgers University—Camden, Swarthmore College, West Chester University, and Wilkes University.

The goal of the tour is to give students a keen grasp on what a college looks, feels, and even tastes like! In addition to touring campus housing and buildings, students met college students and asked questions during a panel discussion.

“The majority of our students will be the first members of their families to go to college. Thus, college tours give them real-life exposure to different campuses,” said Joi Baker Jones, director of College Transition & Success. “Our goal is to demystify the experience so that they feel like college is a place where they will thrive and belong.

The colleges and universities selected for the annual tour must be SEED endorsed, which means they must have a track record of success for underrepresented students. Through our College Matching Tier System, we evaluate colleges on three criteria most vital to the success of low-income, first-generation students. First, we assess the quality and availability of campus supports. Second, we rank colleges based on the generosity of their financial aid packages. It’s critical to us that our students not take on lots of debt in order to obtain their degrees. Third, we look at the graduation rate of each institution. Only institutions with strong graduation rates are endorsed. SEED has ranked over 400 colleges and universities based on their performance in these three areas.

“In the same way that students need to be college ready, we believe that colleges need to be student ready, especially when it comes to serving underrepresented students,” said Vincena Allen, chief growth officer at SEED.

Ensuring that SEED students go to a SEED-endorsed school pays off. Sixty four percent of all SEED graduates who start at SEED-endorsed schools graduate. That’s more than four times the rate for students who start at colleges that are not SEED endorsed.

“Our data shows that choosing a right-fit college can make all the difference for our students,” said Ms. Allen. “We’re committed to ensuring that our students and families become informed consumers and better understand what to look for in a college. Choosing a college is one of the most important life decisions you can make. We want to be sure that SEED graduates get it right.”

Malik Conway (SEED MD ‘20) enrolled in SEED MD as a sixth-grade student and is now in his junior year of high school. He joined this year’s college tour. “I was so excited to visit West Chester University, Wilkes College, and Rider University to see what college is really like. This tour has allowed me to broaden my horizons. I’ve always wanted to go to college. It’s hard to believe that I may be a student at one of these schools very soon.”

What We're Learning: SEED DC Scholars Serve the Community and Learn Real-World Skills as Tax Prep Ambassadors

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For some of us, filing our taxes is as simple as working with a tax professional or creating an online account with a tax services provider, submitting the necessary documents, and pressing send. Unfortunately, for many residents in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C., the story is quite different.

Peter Nouhan, a graduate student at Georgetown University, saw a need for professional tax services for underserved populations who don’t have access to technology in these communities. He decided to start the first high-school-led, free tax prep initiative in Washington, D.C., offering a unique opportunity for local college-bound students to serve their community.

After receiving the 2018 Baker Innovation Grant, a $20,000 grant to fund social and political programs, Mr. Nouhan partnered with Community Tax Aid (CTA), a free, local tax assistance organization, and Hoya Taxa, a Georgetown University undergraduate student organization, to pilot the SEED Tax Prep Ambassadors program.

“We approached over 30 schools in the DC area, and Lesli Thompson, director of experiential learning & external opportunities at SEED DC, was the only person who took the leap. She believed in our initiative. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without her,” Mr. Nouhan said.

Every Monday evening, beginning on February 4, the SEED Tax Prep Ambassadors went to St. Luke Catholic Church to learn how to properly prepare tax documents, which included collecting the client’s tax documents, photo ID, and Social Security card and uploading them to a secure Google Drive account. With the help of Ron Hayes, tax program manager at CTA, and Hoya Taxa members Daphne Chiang (Georgetown University ’19) and Mark McNiskin (Georgetown University ’20), the SEED scholars worked closely with their clients to schedule appointments, provide consultations, and input tax information. A certified public accountant then prepared the taxes remotely, and the clients returned a week later to go over their returns and submit them.

“Because of this program, I learned what it means to be an effective multitasker and successfully handle multiple clients at one time,” said Kendriss Johnson (SEED DC ’19).

Congratulations to the following SEED DC scholars—Zachary Clark (SEED DC ’19), London Hart (SEED DC ’19), Kendriss Johnson (SEED DC ’19), Jeffrey Moore IV (SEED DC ’19), Imani Nixon (SEED DC ’19), and Jaymar Richards (SEED DC ’19)—for making history by being a part of such an amazing initiative and serving their community!

Where Are They Now? Monique Matthews (SEED DC ’04, Southeastern University ’09, Trinity Washington University ’12) Celebrates 13 Years with the US Government

At SEED, we begin to offer intensive college preparation to our students their junior year of high school. Our students learn how to financially prepare for college, tour colleges and universities across the country, and enroll in a semester-long course focused on ensuring a smooth transition from SEED to college life.

But we know that unexpected challenges that may arise while in college can derail our students’ college dreams. That’s why SEED’s College Transition & Success team is here to help every SEED student throughout the entire college process—from junior year of high school to college graduation.

Monique Matthews (SEED DC ’04) hit a snag her freshman year and began to rethink her college journey. With the support of Vincena Allen, who founded the College Transition & Success program, Monique remained on track and persisted to college completion.

This month, we spoke to Monique to learn more about her college journey and where she is now.

What college or university did you attend?

I attended Southeastern University, where I majored in public health and clinical science.

How was your transition from SEED to college?

My transition from SEED was hard, because I initially chose to attend a college that was not the best fit for me. I thank Ms. Vincena Allen for helping me successfully get through my freshman year. There were many days I wanted to quit because I was unhappy, but she continued to support me and encouraged me to finish the year strong—and I did. By my sophomore year, I was enrolled at Southeastern University—and there I found what “worked” for me. I got into a better rhythm and took full advantage of every opportunity.

Did you stay connected to SEED while in college?

While in college, I participated in many SEED events, including the Alumni Institute [now the SEED Graduate Institute]. I am thankful for the friendships and relationships I built at SEED, because they helped me to navigate the college process and to overcome any obstacles.

What did you do after graduating from Southeastern University?

After graduating from Southeastern University in 2009, I took a year off from school to focus on establishing my career in the federal government. I had a desire to obtain my master’s degree. Ms. Allen was there to support my goal and cheer me along the way, and in 2010 I enrolled at Trinity Washington University and graduated in 2012 with a Master of Public Community Health degree.

I will be celebrating 13 years of working in the federal government this September! I currently serve as a program manager at the US Department of Labor, where I manage the department’s services and programs that help our employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.

How did your experience at SEED impact you?

My experience at SEED has impacted me in more ways than one. I learned that only I am in control of my success and not to compare my success to others around me. This has helped me remain focused on the bigger picture and my long-term goals.

SEED has also provided me with a tremendous support system. Having a dream is great, but having a group of people behind you, pushing you to be a better you with every breath in their bodies—there is no feeling greater.

SEED continues to be a significant part of my life. The relationships I formed at SEED 20 years ago still thrive today. I am the woman I have become today mostly because of SEED. I am proud to say I am a SEED alumna and proud of my experience.