(May 16, 2018 – Arlington, VA) Wearing brand new college t-shirts and big smiles, AHC Inc.’s high school seniors announced their college decisions at the nonprofit organization’s annual “College Signing Day.” The 24 students, participants in AHC’s College and Career Readiness Program, are the first in their families to continue their education and attend college.
AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer based in Arlington, VA, provides a variety of onsite educational and social services for residents, including education programs for youth.
Initiated in 2016, AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program helps high school seniors successfully transition to the next step. The program pairs students with adult mentors who help teens succeed academically and also navigate the challenges of college applications and scholarship opportunities.
“It’s wonderful to watch the students shine and to see how proud the volunteers are of their students,” explained Milenka Coronel, AHC’s Senior College and Career Readiness Manager. “College Signing Day was as exciting for the mentors as it was for the students.”
Celebrating with the teens were volunteer mentors, parents, representatives from Arlington Public Schools and leaders from Project Discovery of Virginia, a statewide program that provides resources and tools to help students stay in school and successfully access post-secondary education.
Speakers included James Sample, Equity & Excellence Coordinator, Washington-Lee High School and Monique O’Grady, School Board Member, Arlington Public Schools.
“As a first generation student, you are the first person in your family to pursue higher education and will be part of the 33% of freshmen who are first-generation students in the United States,” said Monique O’Grady, Arlington County School Board member. “We are here to celebrate your hard work and commitment. I know your future is bright and full of hope.”
The students are planning to attend a variety of schools, including George Mason University, James Madison University, Kent State University, Northern Virginia Community College, University of Mary Washington, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.
Youth are considering a wide range of careers, including criminal justice, architecture, mechanical engineering, animation, veterinary medicine, environmental science, law, economics, hospitality management, cyber security, international relations and nursing.
Together the 2019 grads have earned approximately $600,000 in scholarships and aid. Several students earned significant individual scholarships.
Nahom Ayele, for instance, earned a POSSE Foundation Scholarship, a four-year, full-tuition leadership merit scholarship that also includes mentoring, leadership training, and career preparation. Nahom will be attending Bucknell University in the fall.
Esther Garcia received the James Madison University Centennial Scholars Program, a full, four-year scholarship, which also provides financial assistance and academic support.
Three students also received generous scholarships from the Arlington Community Foundation, a combined $13,500 per year.
The College & Career Readiness Program is the culmination of AHC’s multi-faceted education program, which also includes an afterschool program and summer camp for elementary students plus tutoring for middle and high school teens.
Many students have grown up in the program. Five students, Rene Burgos, Jessica Delgadillo, Liliana Martinez, Roger Mensah-Cooley, and Kevin Platero started attending AHC’s afterschool program in elementary school.
“It is such a privilege to be a part of our students’ lives over the years and help their dreams come true,” said Coronel. We are so proud of all they have accomplished and their determination to succeed.”
For more than 10 years, 100% of the seniors in the program have successfully graduated from high school. The students’ determination helps build their commitment to succeeding in college. Eighty percent of AHC’s college students are staying in school or have graduated. This compares to just 56% of the first-generation students across the country and 74% of the students with college-educated parents.
Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 apartment units in 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education and social service programs and activities.