Three years ago, when Kathy Persaud got accepted to the Einstein Enrichment Program (EEP), she had no idea that it would become a turning point in her life. This fall, Ms. Persaud, along with fellow EEP student, Julio Henriquez, will attend Columbia University on a Higher Education Opportunity Program scholarship—an award that helps educationally and economically disadvantaged students pursue their higher education goals.
For more than two decades, EEP has been committed to encouraging high school students from minority and financially underprivileged communities to pursue careers in science and medicine. In addition to Ms. Persaud and Mr. Henriquez, 14 students graduated from the EEP this year, and also have been accepted to leading colleges and universities across the nation.
Through its unique learning environment, EEP offers its scholars avenues for personal and academic development. Students attend presentations and workshops offered by Einstein faculty, take part in classes to improve language and writing skills, and are able to observe faculty and staff as they work in research labs and clinical settings. In addition, EEP offers students guidance in the completion of their college applications and provides professional counseling to those grappling with academic or family issues.
"When I first joined the program, I was a shy, timid girl who avoided talking to large groups of people," said Ms. Persaud. "But EEP doesn't allow you to stay unseen for long. I was forced to shed my inhibitions when I presented research papers to my classmates and teachers."
Deborah Negron Cordero, an EEP counselor, worked closely with both students throughout their time in the program. "Kathy impressed everyone with her sincerity, hard work and fierce motivation," noted Ms. Negron Cordero. "At our special awards ceremony for the graduating students, she delivered a speech that inspired confidence."
During Ms. Persaud's time in the EEP, she had a variety of experiences that fueled her curiosity. "I was exposed to many different professions," she said. "I learned a lot and I am excited to continue exploring possibilities."
She added, "The guidance I received on my college applications was immensely helpful. Being a first-generation student, I didn't have anyone in my family to turn to for help. But the EEP staff was very supportive and answered all my questions."
Mr. Henriquez, who graduated in the top five percent of his high school class, plans to pursue a business management-oriented path at Columbia. He came to the States from the Dominican Republic when he was 11. "He's a go-getter—dedicated, ambitious and very determined," noted Ms. Negron Cordero. "When you hear him speak, you come away truly impressed with the level of maturity and professionalism from a young man his age."
Both he and Ms. Persaud are grateful for their experiences at Einstein and excited to be moving on.
"EEP has been a transformative experience and has helped me become the bold, outspoken woman I am today," observed Ms. Persaud. "Without my Einstein family I don't know where I would be."
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