The seventh annual New Haven Promise Scholar Celebration — which will take place on Thursday night (August 17th) at the Lyman Center on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University — will be record-setting in a variety of ways.
The Class of 2017 had 359 qualifiers for the Promise award, a figure that has expanded more than 75 percent in just the last three years. That means that more scholarship dollars than ever will be disbursed in 2017-18 and a record number of Celebration attendees is expected. The full list of qualifiers will be released in the celebration program on Thursday.
More and more of those attendees willing be coming from both sides — Scholars, supervisors and hiring managers — of the Promise Internship & Career Initiative, which produced 115 paid positions this past summer. The first year of the program, 2014, yielded 23 internships.
The Scholar Celebration will be a high-energy event with WTNH morning anchor Keith Kountz serving as the emcee. Speakers will also include Yale University President Peter Salovey, City of New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp, New Haven Promise President Patricia Melton, recent Albertus Magnus graduate Jorgieliz Casanova and former ESPN anchor Darren Haynes. Yale Chief of Police Ronnell Higgins will give the evening’s keynote address.
In addition to the remarks and introduction of the 2017 Scholars, the event will also have some short videos and two award presentations.
The Promise Legacy Award will be shared by Casanova and Eastern Connecticut State University graduate Lawrence McGill. Those two didn’t just graduate on time with a lofty grade-point average, but made a difference for those coming behind them.
McGill, a math major and track & field captain at Eastern, spent each of the last four summers working on Yale’s campus, twice with Information Technology, once with the School of Medicine’s Web Group and this past year as a geographic information system intern at the Center for Science & Social Science Information.
Part of his recent job was helping to engage city youth in discovering the broad range of STEM fields as he led activities with Yale’s Pathways to Science program and the City’s Microsoft YouthSpark Hub.
Casanova has served as a program assistant at Promise headquarters since 2013, handling every task imaginable. But perhaps most importantly, she has helped guide so many first-generation-to-college students through the tricky maze of paying for and succeeding at college.
“I met Jorgieliz back in 2013, before she started college, and her commitment to the city was evident then,” said President Melton. “I would go to events all over the city and Jorgieliz would be there tabling for one organization or another. So we snapped her up her freshman year and she has been a critical component to all of our success… and the success of a lot of students as well.”
The other honor, the Promise Champion Award, will be presented to Dr. Reginald Mayo and the New Haven Public School District.
Given to an individual or organization that has provided a significant and meaningful contribution to Promise Scholars and to the growth of New Haven Promise, Dr. Mayo helped pioneer its establishment.
The school district — which now has grown to more than 22,000 students — has begun an initiative to attract minority teachers and has opened a pipeline to paid internships through New Haven Promise. This year 12 Scholars were hired to provide services at eight different sites.
Thursday’s event — which begins at 7 pm — is free and open to the public.