William Smith sophomore Emily Nugent ’13 and the Say Yes program were recently the focus of a report by WSYR-TV in Syracuse, N.Y. Through the Say Yes program, any student who completes their sophomore through senior years at a Syracuse city high school will receive a tuition scholarship to a participating college.
Nugent is a recipient of a Say Yes scholarship and is quoted in the report, “Through Say Yes, I’m pretty much able to go to my dream school.”
The transcript of the WSYR-TV report follows.
‘Say Yes’ provides SCSD students with the help they need
August 23, 2010
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – In its first two years, the “Say Yes” program has helped over 1,000 Syracuse City School District graduates with college.
For any student who has attended 10th through 12th grades at a City high school, the program provides tuition scholarships to nearly 100 colleges. Some of the students may not be on a college campus without the program’s help, and others are using it to attend schools that might have otherwise been financially unobtainable.
“Through Say Yes, I’m pretty much able to go to my dream school,” said Emily Nugent, a sophomore at Hobart and William Smith.
Her experience is one reason Nugent decided to work for the Say Yes summer program for younger kids. She said the Say Yes program is the only way she could attend Hobart and William Smith and that’s a message she brings them. “Instilling in them that an education is very important, and you can continue your education through Say Yes at a young age will help them,” Nugent said.
“To see our young people going off to college this academic year is always exciting,” said Syracuse Say Yes Executive Director Rachael Gazdick.
More than 500 of the 900 graduating seniors in the class of 2009 took advantage of Say Yes. Gazdick says she is expecting similar numbers with the class of 2010 once they’ve all started their freshman year. “Let’s say, for example, they decided they weren’t ready to go to college after their senior year quite yet, they’re still eligible a year out for the Say Yes promise,” said Gazdick.
Going into her senior year at Corcoran High School, Janise Carmichael had her list of colleges, but the University of Rochester really wasn’t in play, until Say Yes came into the picture. Now she’s going into her sophomore year as a double major at the University of Rochester. “When I found out about it, I was really relieved because things would just be so much easier, less stressful,” she said.
The program was especially helpful since her father had recently been laid off from his manufacturing job. “I know that if this wasn’t possible she’d probably go to a lesser college, but with her academic standing this is the best thing that could have ever happened for us,” David Carmichael said.
“You can do it and say yes definitely helps you,” Janise said.
Syracuse is the first district-wide program for “Say Yes” in the nation. Besides the college tuition scholarships, it also includes a number of other services like tutoring, after school and summer programs.
Gazdick says the program adds value to the community, as well as to educations. “I’ve talked to realtor groups about the importance of selling homes and properties in the city, so over the last two years we have heard I’m staying because of Say Yes,” she said.
For kids still a few years from college, Gazdick says the commitment is there to make sure they also have this help for college, but she says it takes the entire city, not just the school district to carry it out.
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