SEED School of Maryland

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.  

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.”