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Twelve college students excelling under adversity win scholarships

Brooklyn Woman with Strong Math Aptitude

August 24, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) CEO and Executive Director Jennifer Jones Austin (far right) is pictured alongside students honored at FPWA’s annual awards breakfast. Standing next to her (second from right) is Aderys Adames. Other students, left to right: Jhoel Peguero, Bibi Morium, Alexander Philip Torbor, Neha Basnet, Alexus Murray, Raymi Echavarria, Yuan Chen, Xue Lin, Larissa Jimenez and Desire Nizigama. Photo credit: Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
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Twelve college students, including a Brooklyn resident, were awarded scholarships at a recent breakfast that the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) sponsored. Among the students honored for their success in battling adversity is a young woman from Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills neighborhood who earns money by helping newer students adjust to college.

Recipients of each $2,000 scholarship are college juniors and seniors who were selected for their individual abilities to excel despite challenging circumstances. The FPWA’s member agencies identified these young adults as having demonstrated a commitment to furthering their education.

FPWA CEO and Executive Director Jennifer Jones Austin, Chief Strategy and Program Officer Wayne Ho and Director of Member Initiatives Vanessa Leung kicked off the program by welcoming the recipients. Program Manager Blanche Centeno-Hatwood presented the awards to the 12 recipients.

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Representatives of the referring member organizations spoke about each student’s unique qualifications and background. These member organizations included Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cypress Hills Local Development Corp., Edwin Gould Services for Children & Families, Forestdale, Inc., Goddard Riverside Community, Inc., Henry Street Settlement, and Hudson Guild.

Jones Austin, daughter of the Rev. William Augustus Jones who for 43 years was the pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, recently spoke at her late father’s church about the importance of the social gospel ministry. She said from the pulpit that “a society is responsible for the needs of its members. Redemption and salvation have to be more than personal. It also has to be communal.”

During the scholarship breakfast, Jones Austin said, “The college scholarships are one of the many ways that we seek to address the needs of New York’s young people and potential future leaders, all of whom who have been through adversity yet are excelling in school or in their personal lives.”

For nearly 30 years, FPWA has awarded college scholarships to students who have overcome personal hardships and demonstrate financial need. FPWA decided to provide financial support specifically to students of junior and senior status because there are fewer scholarships available when students become upperclassmen. All of the scholarship honorees are working tirelessly to turn adversity into advantage.

One of these honorees is Aderys (Addy) Adames, who lives in Cypress Hills, a subsection of East New York. A rising junior at Queens College, she also works for the Cypress Hills Local Development Corp. as a college coach with her own caseload of about 60 students. She stays in touch with them, guiding them through the class registration and financial aid application process and helping them adjust to college life.

“There’s a lot of things that come up as a college student; and it helps to have someone contact you and ask, ‘How are you, and how are classes going?’” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Mentoring the students is a big part of it — I’m also a student. I think there’s something about a student helping other young people. Sometimes you feel more comfortable talking to someone your own age, someone who’s going through the same things you’re going through.”

Adames, who was in an Advanced Placement program in psychology, aspires to enter this field. She found a college that would meet her needs. “I felt that Queens College was not only close by, but also had a beautiful campus and had a really good psychology program.”

Adames is also a strong math student, which proves helpful in her major’s required courses such as statistics. “I had the opportunity to have really good math teachers at my high school. So that helped a lot, especially with pre-calculus.” Moreover, she is doing an internship as a research assistant with one of her professors.

“I like to think that I’m a leader,” says Adames. “For me, it’s more about the results and what happens when I can bring a team together, and we can organize and plan something. I got a new role at my job as an event coordinator. Today I ran my first event — the summer kickoff barbecue, which celebrates students who just graduated from high school going into college, and students continuing college, and brings them together.”

Adames said that the point was to have them get acquainted, so the incoming students could know someone already as they start college.

College Scholarship Award Recipients for 2016 were, in addition to Adames, Larissa Jimenez, SUNY Old Westbury, also referred by Cypress Hills LDC; Neha Basnet, Brooklyn College; Alexander Philip Torbov, CUNY Baruch College; Demetrius Johnson, New York University; Bibi Morium, CUNY Baruch College; Raymi Echavarria, CUNY Hunter College; Desire Nizigama, Stony Brook University; Alexus Murray, John Jay; Xue Lin, Hunter College; Jhoel Peguero, Lehman College.

“This scholarship is really lifting a weight off our shoulders, and letting me focus on school,” said Adames. “I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to get to school tomorrow. My parents left the Dominican Republic behind so I could have better opportunities. This award represents hope for another future.”


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