“At Times I Didn’t Know If I Could Make It” And Now I Am Headed To Harvard
By Nyesha McCauley
December 20, 2012
Said John Van Allen, a Hartford resident and Senior at Avon Old Farms which is an independent private school he enrolled in as a participant of the Hartford Youth Scholars Steppingstone Academy. Referring to the countless extra hours of work as “school on top of school” he now realizes the benefits of participating in the Hartford Youth Scholars academic enrichment program.
At the Hartford Youth Scholars breakfast, on November 30th, John said to the audience, “At times I didn’t know if I could make it.” But with the support of the program and most importantly his Mom, Kameyia Van Allen, he not only made it, he is enrolling at Harvard University in the fall.
The Steppingstone Academy is an academic enrichment and preparation program designed to expose students to the academic rigor found at top independent schools. In addition to strengthening the academic foundation for future success, the Academy helps students develop strong study skills, resiliency, perseverance and confidence which are critical ingredients to developing a college ready student.
Knowing there were sacrifices the family would have to make, Kameyia Van Allen was willing to make them because she knew education was the key to her son’s success and she believes that with parenthood comes sacrifice. This message was not lost on John as he made many personal sacrifices in order to realize his potential including time away from friends, eliminating friends that did not have a positive influence in his life while continuing to participate in the school athletic programs.
At the core of many of our most successful students are parents who engage in their child's education regardless of their own obstacles and personal challenges. Put another way, you don’t have to know how to do all of your child's work; you just need to make sure they know how to do all of their work.
Kameyia drilled into her children the importance of EDUCATION as the key to a better future where her children would not have the same struggles she has been faced with. Keeping John on track was no easy task, at times not paying bills because John needed things to continue his success at school is only one example her dedication to supporting him, encouraging him and letting him know she loved him so he could maximize his academic potential.
Despite all of Kameyia's efforts, she understands it takes a village to raise a child and has praise for everyone who supported him including teachers, mentors and coaches. “ Knowing that you have so many people in your corner makes you that much more eager to succeed and want success.”
John clearly understands and appreciates the support he received and hopes to be able to provide the same opportunity for someone else in the future as he stated “hopefully, one day I can be in the audience listening to the story of another student” finding success through the Steppingstone Academy program” which his mother echoed stating that “John wanted to excel in life and later be able to make a difference in the community.”
In closing, Kameyia stated “Some families don't know how to access academic programs…It’s our job as parents to spread the word and become knowledgeable……….We want to build leaders right here in Hartford in hopes of building a stronger community.”