Having dropped out of high school due to social stressors, it became clearly evident that opportunities for a Latino high school dropout from the Bronx were minimal. I attempted to return to the high school I attended, and was told I could not go back to the school as it was not my zoned school. I pleaded that my zoned school had a high dropout rate and wanted to get back into my high schools and make it right. I was told that this had been heard and an exception would not be made.
I found the ASHS Clemente Center through a friend who had attended previously. The program individualized my education to my learning style. Instructors like Mr. Gary Wilder, counselor Ms. Gwendolyn Trimble, and principal Ms. Alma Warner saw in me, and in others, the potential that we could become, if nurtured and supported. They did not end their support with getting the GED, they facilitated my attendance to college and little did they know, they started a path toward success.
These "angels" told me I could do more. I attended City University of NY, Lehman College and graduated cum laude. I attended Harvard Medical School, also graduating cum laude. I specialized in pediatric intensive care and emergency medicine, and now lead a medical division. Many in my journey helped me achieve this, but it started at the Roberto Clemente Center.
Finally, I have devoted my life to not only taking care of critically ill children, but as I cannot give back to Gary, Gwen, and Alma, and to ASHS, I devote time to mentoring the next generation, in order to pass on the gifts they gave me. The legacy is clear - ASHS succeeded!
For me, ASHS was an opportunity to graduate high school. When I was 17, I got a job on 38th Street as a delivery boy for a yogurt shop. After work, I would walk to Julia Richman H.S. (on 67th Street) for evening GED classes. After a month I took the Test and passed with a high enough score to go right into a 4-year college. In 1988 ASHS hired me as a classroom paraprofessional. I had taken time off from college but I went back to complete my degree.
In 1999 ASHS hired me as a teacher. Having no children of my own, I felt blessed that I could make a difference and give a second chance to young people who suffered as I did when I was their age. I retired from teaching at the end of the 2019 school year. As a parting gift, the CBO that I collaborated with as a DOE teacher did a historiography of the young people I graduated with their GED since 2002. It was close to 2000 students! I take great pride in the fact that I was able to do for them what ASHS did for me. Many went to college and are raising families of their own. But, most importantly, they are productive members of our society and tax payers. Thank you ASHS!
I came to America in 1979 from Vietnam as a poor refugee with empty hands. I had been living in a refugee camp and was lucky to be sponsored by my half-brother to come to New York. It was also lucky that I had escaped on the same boat with a woman whose brother, Dr. Lee, had emigrated years ago and was now in charge of the ASHS Chinese bilingual program at the Tenzer Center. I stayed with Lee and his sister briefly, and he encouraged me to go to school and get my GED. So, I entered the program at Tenzer where I was amazed at the tenacity and patience of the teachers who all helped me get my high school equivalency diploma.
From there, I got a job as a para at Seward Park High School. A great benefit of this job was that it offered employees the chance to take free college courses. Eventually, after years of going to school part-time, I got a BA degree and then in 1989 a teaching license.
At that moment it was hard to find a job as a rookie. However, it was also the year Vietnamese Amer-asians were first being admitted to the U.S. These were children who had mothers that were Vietnamese and fathers who were American GIs who abandoned their children and returned to the U.S. With this influx of high-school-age pupils, ASHS needed teachers who spoke Vietnamese, so I was hired.
After working for years in the Bronx with these students, lo and behold, I was called down to teach at the Tenzer Learning Center, the very school where I had begun my road to success. It was with great pride that I began teaching eager and not-so-eager students in the very same classroom where I once sat as a learner. I am sure other ASHS graduates found similar success and fulfillment.
Subbing at ASHS was one of my favorite periods of my 35 year career in teaching working in an uplifting atmosphere with enthusiastic staff. I overcame the rare lemon most of the time.
It is a joy that I worked with ASHS students and staff.
As a recruiter for all 64 colleges of the State University of NY, I visited every public, private and parochial HS in NYC and had the opportunity to speak to thousands of students. My objective was always to inspire them to succeed and guide them through the entire admissions and financial aid application process. I have many stories of interactions with highly talented students as well as with students who struggled to stay in school. Some of the most motivated students I encountered were students who attended ASHS centers. Their desire to redeem themselves and receive a HS diploma was always visible and was the reason why I always accepted an invitation to speak to ASHS students. Regardless of how big or small the group, or whether I was in a school building or in the basement of a Housing Project, many students heard our message and accepted the call to apply and attend college. I am proud to have been a supporter of ASHS and to have helped many students achieve academic and personal success through higher education.
JD from Queens
I had dropped out of school and was told that I could not come back. After trying a few jobs and seeing what other dropouts were doing with their lives I knew that I had to get my high school diploma. I found the Jamaica Learning Center and got in right away. I didn't believe it, but they told me I could get my GED within a few months, if I put in the work. The teachers were great, they listened to me and adjusted the work to speed up or slow down depending on how I was doing. What really blew my mind was that there were adults in the class with us teens. That made me work harder because I did not want to be in my 30's still trying to get a high school diploma. After a few months I took the practice GED. That convinced me and my teachers that I was ready for the real thing. Sure enough, I passed the test, got my diploma and attended graduation ceremonies at Hunter College. My mother and younger sister were very proud of me. I was too! I eventually graduated from college and got a good paying job. When I started at the Jamaica Center I didn't think all of this was in my future. Thank you ASHS Jamaica Learning Center for believing in me and showing me that I could do whatever I put my mind to doing! Too bad other dropouts will never get the kind of help that I got.
Karume H from New Mexico
Attending this program saved my life. I came to the USA to live with my father and his family; which turned out to be a nightmare. He is a crack head. I started attending the Queensboro Learning Center to finish high school. It was such a safe environment for me that I ended up working in the office under principal Donna Shaneson, dreading whenever it was time to go home. The staff and friends that I made there became my family.