Tara Eagan ‘12 found her voice at Harlem Academy and she’s using it to make a positive difference at her new home, the University of Rochester.
Tara came to Harlem Academy with great potential but little experience grappling with advanced academics. It didn’t take her long to catch on and by eighth grade she was earning standardized test scores at the 92nd percentile.
However, Tara acquired more than a transformational education during her time with us; she also gained the confidence to be a leader. “There was a lot of room to have a voice at Harlem Academy, and you need that to be an effective leader,” she says. “If I ever had a concern, I could talk about it with anyone there and I would be heard. Harlem Academy taught me that if I speak up, people will take what I have to say seriously.”
Tara continued to hone her confidence at Grace Church School, but it wasn’t always a smooth road. “When I first went to Grace Church I was a little insecure, because I didn’t have as much money as the other students,” she admits. “I wondered if I belonged there.”
Tara struggled for several months then realized she needed help. With support from her advisor, her family, and Harlem Academy, Tara overcame her insecurities and ultimately thrived at Grace Church.
By the time she entered the University of Rochester, she was ready to make her mark. Her first year on campus, she served as the Black Student Union’s freshman representative. The next year, she became its president. Now, as a junior, she’s president of the Minority Student Advisory Board, a teaching assistant for one of her classes, and a volunteer in the community.
“As a freshman, I knew that I wanted to be involved on campus, so I hit the ground running,” says Tara. “I have great mentors here – both professors and students – who have guided me.”
She’s doing the same in return, using her many leadership roles as a means to mentor and advocate for other students. “Being a part of these groups gives me a direct line to school administration, and I don’t take that lightly,” says Tara. “Serving as a voice for other students is an important responsibility.”
So is helping students benefit from the same opportunities she had. Tara’s volunteerism takes her to local Rochester high schools where she tutors, mentors, and educates students about her university’s scholarships.
“A lot of kids from low-income backgrounds don’t know what’s available to them,” says Tara, who is considering a career as a college advisor. “I wouldn’t have known either if not for Harlem Academy. They opened me up to the world of independent schools and scholarships – a world my parents and I knew nothing about. Harlem Academy planted the seed for everything I could do, and I want to be that person for other kids like me.”
In April 2019, Tara received the University of Rochester's Michael Lowensten Memorial Award for deepening student, faculty, and community awareness of social, racial, or political inequities. Congratulations, Tara!