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“From the start of my high school life to the day I graduated, YPIE has been with me every step along the way. Friendship, support, a large community -- I will carry that with me into the future. What YPIE gives students greatly shapes their lives in ways they would never think possible.”

  • Yonkers High School, 2015-2019

  • YPIE Scholar 2015-2019

  • College Student, Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Intended Major: Game Development; Minor: Computer Science

How did you first get involved with YPIE?

David was one of a small group of students who participated in YPIE during middle school. When he started 9th grade at Yonkers High School, he soon learned how he could continue to be involved in YPIE.

“When I heard about the YPIE Scholars program, I learned how this program could greatly help me in the future as I go through high school. My mom also encouraged me. She always works hard to do anything that would help me excel academically.”

David started going to the YPIE College Zone after school, where he studied Earth Science and Geometry. He also participated in a Game Design program over the summer and made his own game using MIT’s Scratch platform.

“I felt really comfortable at the College Zone. I became friends with students from other Yonkers high schools and enjoyed seeing people I knew. It was academic and community-centered because you knew that everyone was in the program to reach the same goal and to be there to support each other, like a second family.”

David remembers watching as a new class of YPIE Scholars started the following year -- now having both 9th and 10th graders at the YPIE College Zone. “I feel special because I am a part of the 1st generation of students at the College Zone. I am leaving behind a legacy.”

In what ways did YPIE have an impact on you during high school?

David was involved in YPIE during all four years of high school. He reflects on the impact both academically and personally.

“YPIE has helped me to grow not only as a student but also as a person. I developed a sense of confidence. Now I can branch out and meet anyone who is new to me. YPIE does everything in its power to make sure that everyone succeeds.”

“Academically, YPIE does their best to come up with fun activities to ingrain the material in our minds. At the end of the day, we feel accomplished. YPIE helped me to grow as a student – expanding my mind and making myself more active in my school community.”

David found his passion at Yonkers High School for the performing arts. Through the years, he played four characters in the school musical Beauty and the Beast, performed in bands in the Talent Show, and was part of the African Dance group at the International Dance Gala.

“Personally, YPIE helped me to get out of my shell and do things I wouldn’t normally do -- like performing in the talent show. It’s a safe, secure space where people support you no matter what. Just to be myself which has helped me in my school life and life outside of school.”

“With Yonkers High and YPIE, I saw an opportunity to stand out. With the people I met through YPIE, I learned how to speak more comfortably with others. Everyone was always kind and supportive of all the things I did.”

What are some of your favorite moments?

During the summer before senior year, YPIE introduced a social entrepreneurship program. All the students formed groups focused on combating a community-related issue, including health, criminal justice, education, and the environment. David was in the group focused on health and they chose to focus on opioid abuse.

“This is definitely a problem in Yonkers and with students in my generation.”

After doing research and speaking with many experts in the field, David’s group recommended that the local libraries carry a drug (Naloxone) that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. David’s group presented their findings to the YPIE students and mentors and then was selected to attend a community symposium. At the community symposium, the students presented their projects to a group of investors and won 2nd place.

“It was an audience of all our family, friends, and community partners. Everyone was very impressed. I felt like I accomplished something amazing. All the research I did, it helped me to realize that when you put in hard work towards something, the reward is immensely satisfying. It made me feel that YPIE isn't just important but essential to any and every student who joins.”

How did YPIE help with the college process?

During the summer before junior year, David started preparing for the SAT with his YPIE Advisors and also attended several college visits.

“The SAT was definitely new to me. With the help of my college advisor, I learned how to effectively work through the test, what questions we could master, and how to answer questions quicker. It was great working with someone who really understands the test.”

David worked with his YPIE advisors on his college essay, financial aid applications, and putting together his college list. He participated in “fly-in” overnight programs at a couple of colleges during the fall of his senior year.

“My college advisor really helped me with my college list. Big or small? Close or far? I definitely applied to schools that I never heard of.”

What are your college plans?

David will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall, with plans to study Game Development. RIT was one of the schools recommended by his College Advisor. Once he found out that he was accepted, he went to visit and knew right away. “After I visited, I knew I definitely want to go here.”

David also plans to stay connected with YPIE through its College Success Program.

What will you always remember about YPIE?

“The students -- every single student that I’ve met has been a very important person in my life. All the friendships I’ve made. They have been a big part of my life and they have helped me to grow in many ways.”

“From the start of my high school life to the day I graduated, YPIE has been with me every step along the way. Friendship, support, a large community. I will carry [that] with me into the future. I would not be where I am now without YPIE. What YPIE gives students greatly shapes their lives in ways they would never think possible.”

Posted June 2019

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