Priscilla Maldonado — the first New Haven Promise Scholar to earn a four-year degree — will earn yet another first on Thursday night at the New Haven Promise Scholar Celebration at the Omni New Haven Hotel. She will become Promise’s first recipient of the Promise Legacy Award, which will be awarded each year to a Promise graduate who has proven to be of academic distinction as well as dedication to both Promise and the City of New Haven.
“Priscilla will forever hold a rarified position with Promise,” said Patricia Melton, Executive Director of New Haven Promise. “But she isn’t just the first graduate, she is someone who is humbly committed to the City as well as the students who will follow in her footsteps.”
Maldonado — who will also be delivering remarks to the Class of 2014 at the Celebration — graduated from Quinnipiac University in May, just three years after graduating from Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven. She was selected to participated in the University of New Haven’s Outstanding High School Senior Program, which allowed her to finish a semester early at Career and begin taking courses at UNH. Having also taken dual-credit courses at Gateway Community College, Maldonado began a year ahead of her peers at Quinnipiac.
“If I could have done it in two [years], I would have,” she said.
This fall she will begin graduate work in social work at Southern Connecticut State University and an internship at the Metropolitan Business Academy. She credits New Haven Promise with her choice to stay in the Elm City for both undergraduate and graduate work.
“I originally wanted to leave the state and move to the South,” she said. “Promise gave me a 180-degree look at it. Now I have a sense of pride in New Haven … Promise checked in on me and gave me that extra push to succeed. Over time that grew into them pushing me to translate my degree into networking and connections in the city. I am a product of New Haven Promise and I am here because of it. They show pride in all their scholars. It puts a sense of pride in me, and I’m sure it does for everyone.”
Maldonado and UConn junior Michael Bruno, the first non-Yale student to be hired as an Urban Resources Initiative intern, will provide remarks on Thursday evening before a crowd of more than 600 scholars, guests, families and friends. Among others slated to speak to the first fully-funded New Haven Promise cohort will be Yale President Peter Salovey, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp and Martin M. Looney, the Majority Leader of the Connecticut State Senate.