NYU Breakthrough Scholars Leadership Program Overview

October 2, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


♪♪♪♪ The Breakthrough
Scholars program is an investment
from every corner
of Stern, and some of the
most talented
students here in New York City
and across the country. I’ve spent half of my childhood
in Nigeria, and the other half
in New York City. I am from Hoboken New Jersey, which is right across the river
from New York. I come from the south Bronx.
I’m a New York native. I grew up in Brooklyn in
a community called Bushwick. I was first in my family to
even graduate high school, let alone go to college. We grew up on the
Upper East Side of Manhattan, but contrary to popular belief that doesn’t mean
we have money. I got the email
that said: “Your NYU
Admission” so I opened it,
and it said, “We’re, like,
congratulating you on, like, getting into
Stern,” and I was so excited,
and then, like, after there was, like– my heart sunk into my stomach, because I was like, “Wait, NYU’s $75k a year, I can’t afford that,” so I feel like it hurt
in that moment, knowing I got so far, and something that wasn’t even
in my capacity to handle is what was holding me back;
which was the money. They didn’t initially
even want me to apply, just because Stern
is so expensive they knew they couldn’t… provide it for me. I saw my
scholarship
package, and at first I
didn’t realize that it was, like,
a full scholarship. I looked at it,
I looked at the numbers, and I was like,
“How much does NYU cost, because if I’m getting
this much in aid, how much is it in total?” It is so out of the realm
of my dreams to, you know, be able to go to the school
I wanted to go to and be able to afford it. You know, that’s something
I had completely written off maybe five years before I even
applied to college. Along with Leadership
Initiative, we support each student individually and collectively
as a cohort along each stage of their
journey in college, from figuring out what classes
to take to being able to identify
the right experiences for them in terms of internships or extracurricular activities, and then all the way
through the career, and helping them identify
the jobs that are going to help them feel like they can contribute to
the world around them. Going to college,
going to any school, or going to NYU in general, I don’t see a lot of people that
look like me in the first place, I don’t see a lot of people
that have been through what I have been through, and Breakthrough Scholars
kind of introduced me to a bunch of people
that have. (Tejas)
So I had no idea what I was walking into
at Stern, and, you know, as I said, I’m from a small town, and what I should add is that,
you know, not a lot of students really
go to a school like Stern, so there’s not a lot of
opportunity for me to understand what the classes will be like,
what the culture will be like, and what the goals of the
students around me will be like. I was so amazed at the kind of
talent that I was, you know, really fortunate to be
associated with: The types of people,
the types of stories, and the types of dreams that
I was sitting in the room with. I think that hit me right away, and that hits me in every class
I walk into, you know, every day. I think that when
I came to Stern, I came to NYU,
I didn’t really have a voice. I didn’t know how to vocalize
the things that I was thinking, and Breakthrough Leadership
has given me such a strong, powerful voice to not only speak for myself, but open spaces for
other people. The Breakthrough
Scholars Program is a family. It’s quite
strange in college,
everyone is everywhere, and what I’m seeing now is that a lot of people don’t have
the support that we have, and so being able just to
fall back on that, like, just, like, meet with your
family basically, it’s very nice.
It takes a lot of load off. To me, the
Breakthrough
Scholars Program is a support
group. It’s more of a guidance program
through college to allow me to grow personally and to explore my interests
academically. (Sarita)
You know, anybody can tell you that you’re doing incredible, but I think the true
value of mentorship comes from those
who can tell you, you know, you’re not doing great at this,
but we can look at how you can,
and we can work on it. So, the program offers that
in every single way. (Dylan)
No matter where I go I usually —
I can always count on seeing a friendly face, someone to hug, someone that wants
to see me, wants to hear about
how I’m doing, and I want to hear about
what’s happening with them. I want to help them,
I want them to help me, I just think the best part is
the sense of community that has been built. (Corey)
My main hope is that each scholar realizes the immense privilege
they have to be invested in
by so many people who believe in them. To know that
I didn’t apply for this
scholarship, or to be
in this program, makes it even — makes me feel even more
responsible because that means someone
saw something in me that — because that means someone
saw something in me that —
that sometimes
I don’t see in myself. that sometimes
I don’t see in myself. There are people
here who believe
in you, and you’ll
see that. You’ll see that
people will go
out of their way to invest in you, and to show you that
you can do it. We have people we haven’t even
met rooting for us. Regardless, if we didn’t know
what was going on, we knew who to go to, and we knew that there were
people there to fall back on. Like, whenever there is
a hard time coming at you, or if you need help
with something, there is someone there, and that’s, like, what the Breakthrough Scholars
has given me. I love the fact that my scholars
think about themself, think about the commitment
that they have to each other, think about… who they want to be
in the world. who they want to be
in the world.
They’re not thinking about
“How do I get … They’re not thinking about
“How do I get … … this consulting gig?” … … this consulting gig?” …
How to become a banker… How to become a banker… all things that are great, but that comes second
to the person that you are. We’re not just developing
the leaders that we want, but we’re also developing
the type of people, alright,
that the world needs. Leadership is
more than just,
like, being the best
at something or holding
a title. You have to show
great character. Leadership is actually… taking steps to create
an environment for growth; allowing people to be
vulnerable, to be themselves, so you can facilitate
the growth in them. It’s much more than just
a position or resources that you have
at your fingertips, it’s kind of that —
it’s a mindset of perserverance and tenacity, and kind of using different
ways of thinking to find commonality in a
community that you want to be a leader in. I think anyone can be a leader, they just need to learn
how to use their own skills they just need to learn
how to use their own skills
to get there. to get there. You know, someone like me who
considers themself more introverted
and more reserved can still be
just as powerful and have just as strong
an impact as somebody who is more
extroverted, and I think that’s what the program
has helped me understand: that leadership comes
in many different forms. Leadership, to me, is about
empowering others. So, it’s not about being the voice for other people
a lot of times, it’s about opening up a space
for other people to
use their voice, and I think that the biggest part of the
Leadership Initiative is opening up those spaces
for myself, and for the other
Breakthrough Scholars, and other students, to use that voice. I don’t want to think about
the person I would be if I wasn’t in this program. If I had gone to a CUNY,
you know, if I had gone to one of these
schools, I would’ve just been
another student. You know, yes, I was still getting great offers from
these schools, but nothing as amazing as
what NYU has given me, because these other schools
offered me money, but they didn’t offer me
Breakthrough, and I think that’s a
significant difference. I would be healthy, I may be
the same level of happy, I would be healthy, I may be
the same level of happy,
but I think my ambition would
be far beneath but I think my ambition would
be far beneath what it is right now. I don’t think I can
imagine the kind of success that Stern can bring you, if — if I were
at another school, or if I wasn’t a
Breakthrough Scholar. And if anything, I’ve seen
that it’s just so clear that I’m meant to be in New York, and I’m meant to be at NYU, and so I think the only way
that I’ve thought about what it would be like
if I wasn’t here is just thinking, like,
“Oh, thank God I’m here.” When I think about the program, you know, obviously I want us to grow. Right? I want to be able to
expand that door even wider and let in more people into this incredible,
incredible school, incredible university, and that’s going to take
hard work and effort, and it’s also going to rely on the courage of our
current scholars to be able to demonstrate that they can make
the most of this opportunity. I’m committed to making sure that Breakthrough is
not just a part of the story of what Stern does, that it’s instead a part
of the story of what NYU does. I think about my generations,
like, my kids, and my kids’ kids, and my, like,
my future great-grandkids, and I think about, like,
how they won’t have to struggle the way I did or
the way my parents did, simply because of
generosity of other people and because of Leonard Stern
funding my scholarship. I think about, like,
they’re gonna have parents who graduated from top
universities with great degrees, and they’re gonna be sitting at
a dinner table where their parents are
having a conversation about stocks and companies. It’s not about me, it’s about the future generations as well, and how they’re profiting
from this generosity. ♪♪♪