(June 13, 2019 – Arlington, VA) Nearly 100 family members, friends, and supporters attended AHC Inc.’s Graduation Celebration to applaud the nonprofit organization’s Class of 2019 – 24 high school students who are all the first in their families to go to college.
The evening, a culmination of AHC’s College and Career Readiness Program (CCR), was overflowing with hope and promise, students’ sheer joy of accomplishment and proud mentors and parents.
Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey was the keynote speaker. “I find this group so inspiring,” said Dorsey. “Even though you all want to do different things in college, there is a common theme that you want to find a way to make a difference and be a change maker in the world.”
Graduate Roger Mensah-Cooley, a participant in AHC’s education programs since fourth grade, shared how the program and volunteers have helped him overcome challenges over the years.
“Our journey ahead is going to be so awesome, but it may be rough at times. However, you can’t climb to the top of a mountain if the sides are smooth. You need those rough patches to get there. AHC and its programs were like my mountain climbing gear.”
Students Earned $600K in Scholarships
AHC’s Class of 2019 earned approximately $600,000 in scholarships and gift aid. Two students also received full-tuition scholarships. Nahom Ayele is going to Bucknell through the POSSE Foundation and Esther Garcia is attending James Madison University thanks to the Centennial Scholars Program.
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.
“I have had the privilege and honor of working with these amazing students, and it has been a wonderful journey,” said Milenka Coronel, AHC College and Career Readiness Manager. “Their hard work, dedication and commitment has paid off and we know they will do amazing things in their future.”
Mentors Are Key to Students’ Success
Each student in the CCR program has a mentor who works one-on-one with them during their senior year of high school. Their consistent dedication makes a world of difference. Some mentors have worked with individual students for several years through AHC’s Teen Tutoring program, and their personal connection has been a huge part of their success.
“AHC’s program allows for one-on-one interaction, which is essential for these students who have less available resources than their more affluent peers,” said Josh Kearns, a mentor who has known Roger Mensah-Colley since 6th grade. “My relationship with Roger has really grown. He inspires me every day.”
CCR Caps Off AHC’s Education Program
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.
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 first-generation students across the country and 74% of students with college-educated parents.
AHC Inc. thanks the many volunteers, supporters and community organizations that have helped our students along their journey, including Project Discovery of Virginia, Arlington County, and the Arlington Public Schools. Together, we are making dreams come true.
AHC’s Class of 2019
Eilaf Abdelmutalb (NOVA Pathways Program), Salina Abraham (NOVA Pathways Program), Rochelle Andrade (Trinity University), Nahom Ayele (Bucknell University), Chrithian Iriarte Blanco (Virginia Tech), Rene Burgos (Virginia Commonwealth University), Jessica Delgadillo (NOVA Pathways Program), Arsema Deribe (NOVA Pathways Program), Esther Garcia (James Madison University), Alinson Hernandez (NOVA Pathways Program), Liliana Martinez (Virginia Commonwealth University), Annali Menjivar (James Madison University), Roger Mensah-Cooley (George Mason University), Fatima Mercado-Zeron (University of Mary Washington), Rozina Nigussie (Virginia Commonwealth University), Jade Northover (Kent State University), Delina Ogbe (NOVA Pathways Program), Walaa Osman (NOVA Pathways Program), Anudari Oyunbold (NOVA Pathways Program), Jose Perez (NOVA Pathways Program), Kevin Platero (NOVA Pathways Program) Yushek Sitoula (NOVA), Nuhamin Tekleselassie (NOVA Pathways Program), and Sarish Zahid (George Mason University).
AHC 2018/2019 Mentors
Terry Burridge, Laura Cialone, Tara Claeys, Jean Falvey, Aisha Farooq, Evan Heit, Joshua Kearns, Stephanie Lee, Marjorie Macieiran Lemeka Magee, Zaynab Malik, Laurie Mittenthal, Laura Mulieri, Shawn Pham, Hunter Rheaume, Jonathan Roose, Sharon Showalter, Jeanne Sweeney, Ann Symonds, Gary Usrey, Adrienne Wichard-Edds, Kristine Wood, and Maria Woolverton.
Event Photos and Program
- They All Kind of Live Through Me: What It Means to Be the First Person in Your Family to Go to College, Washington Post, 6-16-19
- AHC Program Supports Arlington Youth to Graduation and Beyond, Sun Gazette, 6-17-19
- AHC celebrates 24 first-generation college bound high school graduates, WDVM, 6-26-19
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.