I came to Harlem Academy as a shy first grader, and being able to spend all eight years there has made a big difference in my life.
My teachers always encouraged me to challenge myself. And they did it in a way that made me feel accepted for who I was. My shyness was never treated as a negative; they simply helped me gain the confidence to come out of my shell.
When you spend years in a school community that is so supportive, it’s normal to wonder if high school will be the same. I’ll admit, I was nervous when I arrived at Westover School. During my freshman year, I relied on Harlem Academy’s School Creed to help me adjust to life at a boarding school. I would recite lines to myself like a mantra: I am bold and creative. I take opportunities to lead. I don’t give up.
Thanks to the values instilled in me at Harlem Academy, I was able to overcome the fear I had my first year of boarding school and fully embrace that incredible opportunity. I earned leadership positions at Westover, including proctor and head of our diversity club. I tried new sports and became a varsity athlete, and, as a senior, I was selected to give the convocation speech at the start of the school year and to be the senior class speaker at graduation.
Without the push of Harlem Academy, I truly doubt that I would have gone to boarding school, experienced life away from home, and challenged myself in ways that have made me who I am today.
Now, I’m excited for what comes next: attending Tufts University this fall. When I found out that I’d been accepted early decision, the first person I told after my family was Mr. Dotoli, Harlem Academy’s head of school.
Even as I was preparing for this next step on my journey, Harlem Academy was there for me. The school was a critical resource during the college application process, helping to pay for ACT tutoring for me, which ensured that what I put forward was a true reflection of my abilities.
I’m looking forward to majoring in biology at Tufts and taking hard classes because I know that I’m capable of pushing myself to higher limits. I am no longer the shy girl, but the girl trying everything she possibly can. And I know that Harlem Academy will continue to be there for me every step of the way.