College Bound: Catching up with Tara Eagan ‘12
Tara Eagan grew up in the South Bronx, and through fifth grade, attended a local charter school where she was at the top of her class. One day, the principal called Tara’s mom in to talk about finding an accelerated program that could better challenge her. That’s when they learned about Harlem Academy.
Tara joined the class of 2012 – Harlem Academy’s first cohort of graduates. Like most Harlem Academy students, Tara showed impressive academic growth, gaining 15 percentile points on standardized tests over three years.
By the time she graduated, she was at the 92nd percentile nationwide, respected by her teachers and peers for her focus and hard work. No one was surprised when she earned a scholarship to Grace Church School in eighth grade.
Four years later, as she packed her bags for the University of Rochester, we asked her to tell us about her journey. The conversation centered on building confidence through accepting help and being open to new experiences.
“Jumping from Harlem Academy to Grace, it was different,” said Tara. “Harlem Academy was very socioeconomically diverse, racially diverse, religiously diverse, culturally diverse. When I came [to Grace], I wondered if I deserved to be there because I was just so different. I thought because I didn’t have as much money as everybody else, maybe I shouldn’t be there.”
TAKING INITIATIVE AND TRYING NEW THINGS
“You just have to try things, because it may work, it may not. Your experience may not be mine. But most of the time it can, and you can meet amazing people through that.”
“Coming to Grace, I wasn’t sure I was the writer type, but creative writing turned out to be one of my favorite classes here. And it’s something you bond over with other people. Look at each other’s writing, edit it, and be like, ‘I just love your writing – you express so much here’. Something like that can create the tightest bond between you and another person.”
She tried modern dance at Grace, too, and despite being one of the only students who had never had dance lessons, ended up loving it.
She is planning to major in political science. “Ever since middle school, I’ve loved talking about politics. The political parties – where they stem from, and comparative politics with different cultures and countries… All of those things really interest me.”
“I’m thinking about minoring in African-American Studies, too, based off my Harlem Academy history class with Mr. Roberston,” said Tara. “It was my first class about civil rights, and it made me happy to be learning about myself – about my history and why I’m here. It pushed me to want to do more in college.”
And in her free time, Tara is motivated to get involved with campus initiatives, like the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness, as well as continuing to pursue dance and creative writing.
We asked her if she would come back to this year’s annual Harlem Academy Alumni Holiday Party to share everything that she’s learned, she smiled widely. “Oh definitely! I loved doing that last year. I was happy that I was able to tell them a lot about my experience, because a lot of them are going to go through similar things. I’ll definitely come back.”