May 2021 will mark two years since Long Island Scholars was launched. What has LIS achieved so far? How can we continue to accomplish our mission in these times of radical uncertainty and massive, ongoing change—social, economic, technological, educational?
I'm proud that, so far, we have successfully supported 17 amazing students from all over Long Island in their applications for admission and financial aid at a range of public and private institutions, including: Babson College, Boston University (with a full-ride, named scholarship package), Cornell University, the University of Delaware, Emory University, Queens College CUNY, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghamton, and SUNY Stony Brook (Honors College).
We've also connected students (the 17 mentioned above as well as others) to private scholarship opportunities. We've referred them to the extraordinary national college access organization Questbridge (and supported their application processes there). We've mentored juniors and seniors (both through in-person workshops and online) in writing their admissions essays, requesting letters of recommendation, writing their resumes, embarking on activities and learning opportunities, filling out their Common (and other college and summer program) Applications, negotiating their financial aid awards, and more.
We have continued to develop our website and our social media channels as a source of reliable information about affordable programs, enlightening research, important news, and valuable opportunities. (I remain a big fan of "College Essay Guy" and partner with him to connect our students to his outstanding free online workshops whenever they come along.) Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter (I post more often than I blog).
In the past year, as an Independent Educational Consultant, I have partnered with the private global firm GPS Academy, co-founding and serving as Director of Educational Consulting for the company's new branch office in Great Neck, NY. From this partnership have sprung new programs and opportunities for students who want to strengthen their skills and build experience. These programs are available to Long Island Scholars at no cost and, for the time being, are being run remotely. They include:
Project Beacon, a student-run peer mentoring initiative, through which older teens can earn volunteer hours by supporting younger teens who may be struggling due to isolation imposed by the pandemic;
Scienceholic, a global, student-run digital STEM magazine, by and for teens, which offers multiple volunteer opportunities for student writers, researchers, photographers, graphic designers, social media marketers, videographers and video editors, and more;
GPS/LIS TED-ED Club: I am currently guiding a cohort of students through a 10-week curriculum towards developing their own TED-style Talks. (Over the week of spring break, I will lead a second cohort through an intensive one-week version of the curriculum--contact me if interested.) Students will then deliver their TED Talks at a Student TED-Ed Conference we aim to produce in Great Neck in late summer or early fall.
This spring, I am occasionally meeting and working with students (individually) in person as well as (individually and in small groups) online. In the coming weeks as the weather warms up, I hope we can begin to meet and gather more often in person. The past year has clarified for me (among other things) how valuable our time together is. I hope we will see the pandemic wane over the coming months and emerge with a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of shared presence--of spending time together to plan for a brighter future.