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Alumni Make a Difference This Summer

Date Posted:  Wednesday, August 1, 2018

While some students can’t wait to relax during summer break, Harlem Academy alumni look forward to internships and summer programs that allow them to pursue their interests, learn new skills, and give back to their community. We caught up with a few graduates to hear how they’re spending their summer.

A Doctor in the Making

Brandon Davis ‘15 is interning at Weill-Cornell's Department of Medicine ENT-Surgery, where he gets to observe patient care and surgeries while shadowing one of the residents. “It’s exciting to see tonsillectomies and other surgeries being performed,” he says. “I’m also doing research on sleep apnea to help the doctors make meaningful discoveries.” Brandon, a rising senior at Riverdale, is grateful for the chance to experience the inner workings of a surgical unit as he looks ahead to future goals.  “Thanks to this internship, I know for sure that I want to pursue a medical career,” he says. 


Brandon Davis '15


Helping the Homeless

Wassa Bagayoko ’13, a rising sophomore at Brown, is interning at Partnership for the Homeless. “Homelessness is such an important issue and I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” she says. As part of her work in the development office, Wassa helps run the nonprofit’s social media channels, updates the website, conducts grant research, interviews clients, and more. “I was born and raised in New York, so it feels good to know that I’m doing my part to help people in my community escape homelessness.”


Wassa Bagayoko '13


Portrait of an Artist

Malik Figaro ’16 is pursuing his creative ambitions by attending the Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Art program. “I am very passionate about painting and drawing, and I’m learning so much in this intensive program,” says Malik, a rising junior at Friends Seminary. He plans to leverage the experience as leader of the art club when he returns to school. “I’m looking forward to using what I’m learning this summer to encourage artists and non-artists alike to find their own style.”


Malik Figaro '16

Figaro Art


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Making the Most of Summer

Date Posted:  Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Eight Harlem Academy students earned full scholarships to attend summer programs for gifted students at Exeter, Vassar, and Yale.

Three students look over balcony at Vassar.
Manny, Malik, and A.J. at the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Vassar.

This past summer, eight of our middle school students accepted full scholarships to attend academic programs for gifted students at Phillips Exeter Academy, Vassar College, and Yale University. These highly selective opportunities let them sample schedules and a breadth of programming similar to the top schools they will apply to in the next few years. 

Malik, A.J., and Manny (grade six) and Mikaella (grade seven) all attended the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Vassar. Miles (grade eight) attended the same program at Yale. All five of them spent three weeks on these renowned campuses, working on accelerated academic work with students from all over the world. 

A.J. said, “I loved Vassar! It was the longest I had ever been away from home, but that didn’t really bother me. I got to experience living in a dorm for three weeks and I met kids from places like China, Japan, Ghana, Kenya, and South Korea. My favorite classes were legal debate and crime literature. In one class we learned about how criminal court works and in the other we learned about how to be a detective.” 

Three students at Exeter.
Taneyah, Yarelis, and Alvin at Access Exeter. Special thanks to Twywana Bush for the photo.

In addition, three eighth graders, Yarelis, Taneyah, and Alvin, attended Access Exeter, a month-long summer boarding program at Phillips Exeter Academy. Traditionally only two scholarships are given to Harlem Academy students, but, based on the strength of these students, Exeter made an exception this year and admitted three. Living and working with students from across the U.S. and around the world, each student took courses, prepared classroom presentations, and enjoyed the school’s rigor and opportunities. 

Yarelis wrote, “I have just been so busy having a lot of meetings and classes, but most of all I've been having a lot of fun. Currently I have been taking classes in crime literature, forensic science, and digital photography. I am also a part of a soccer elective which is pretty fun.”

We are proud of these students. Their hard work earned them opportunities to learn at some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the country. Their families share our enthusiasm for their success. After dropping Taneyah off at Exeter, her mother sent us a message.

“As a parent, I view this as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Taneyah. Coming to Harlem Academy has changed her in so many ways and has given her so many great opportunities that I’m speechless. Every parent wants their child to get the best education, so this is an honor for my daughter to go to one of the top boarding schools in the country. Although this program is just for the summer, it will give her a chance to know exactly what she is looking for when applying to boarding schools. Taneyah has come out of her shell and is taking challenges head on and embracing them. I couldn’t be more proud.”

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