Every spring, Harlem Academy middle school students look forward to traveling upstate to spend a few days at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the nation’s oldest technological research university. Having a chance to conduct experiments, present their findings, work with professors, and stay in the dorms, is a big part of the lure. The other is Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of RPI.
As a trailblazer in the field of science and a longtime supporter of Harlem Academy, Dr. Jackson is a role model for our students. Not only does she host our middle-schoolers at RPI year after year, she also spends time with them at Harlem Academy, sharing inspiring details of her journey as the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT.
Harlem Academy’s partnership with Dr. Jackson and RPI gives fifth- through eighth-graders the opportunity to explore science in new ways and work one-on- one with some of the best scientific minds in the country. We’re proud that our partnership was recently recognized in MIT Technology Review :
For the past 15 years, Jackson has worked closely with an independent school in New York City
called Harlem Academy, which provides a rigorous education to low-income students from first
to eighth grade. Each year, the academy’s older students spend three days at RPI, exploring
science and university life.
The school’s leader, Vinny Dotoli, says that Jackson is not only an inspiration to his students but
also a dedicated mentor to him. “She always talks to me about pushing myself more and going
out on a limb more,” he says, “but she’ll do it in a way that feels encouraging, where I walk away
feeling excited to dive back into the work.”
We’d like to thank MIT for spotlighting Harlem Academy in the article and Dr. Jackson for her continued
support. We look forward to the next 15 years of collaboration and to generations of budding scientists
following in Dr. Jackson’s distinguished footsteps.