Upward Bound Spotlights Student Achievement, Wishes Seniors Well


West Windsor, N.J. – MCCC’s Upward Bound program recognized the Class of 2019 during a special ceremony in May. Staff members embraced the achievements of  27 graduating high school seniors, most of whom have been in the program for the past four years. A total of 89 ninth through twelfth graders participated this year.

Dr. Tonia Perry-Conley, Dean of the James Kerney Campus (JKC), offered students and their families a warm welcome at the ceremony and congratulated seniors and awardees for their accomplishments.

Special guests for the event were Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson of the 15th Legislative District, an Upward Bound alumna, and Tara Butler of the Smith Family Foundation.

According to Upward Bound Director Stacy Denton, college is the next step for many of these high school students. “This group has worked hard and has much to be proud of. We will miss them, but look forward to hearing from them as they pursue their goals,” Denton said, adding that she often hears from former Upward Bound students who have gone on to college and careers.

Numerous students received awards and scholarships to help with their postsecondary education. Some of the colleges the seniors will be attending in the fall are MCCC, Kean University, Ramapo University, Stockton University, Caldwell University, and Rider University.

Students receiving special awards included Dean Velasco and Blessing Chidiking (Academic Achievement), Emily Rodriguez (STEM/IST Achievement Award), Casey Fortson (Leadership Award), Gabriel Marin Kaplan (SAT Prep Award), Zanobia Shaw (Citizenship Award), Gabriel Marin and Dean Velasco (Students of the Year) and DeAsia Jones (Outstanding Senior).

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From left, Brian Cody, Assistant Director Upward Bound, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, student of the year awardee Gabriel Marin, Stacy Denton, Director Upward Bound, and student of the year awardee Dean Velasco.

Pictured front row, from left, Yasmin Robinson, Counselor Upward Bound (and Upward Bound alumna), Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (alumna), Tara Butler (alumna), and Stacy Denton, Upward Bound Director (and alumna); standing, from left, Brian Cody, Assistant Director Upward Bound, graduating seniors Mayada Farraj, Victoria Villar, Dyamond Robison,  Mekhi Brown, Ronessa Clemming, Nyah Wilburn, Ramario Clemming, De'Asia Jones, Chaz Duncan, Jennifer Cruz, and Rayuan Page, and Rosetta Brown, Education Specialist (and Educational Talent Search alumna).