Trenton’s youth are by far our community’s greatest asset. As the next generation prepares for the future, we can rest assured knowing that so many of our community’s youth are intelligent, capable, and driven, carrying the torch for future generations. However, despite this potential, many youths in our community are prevented from aspiring to the incredible things we all know they can achieve. While college and a career are all excellent growth opportunities, without the mechanisms to access these institutions, the hopes and dreams of our community’s youth are just that – dreams. But thanks to the support and encouragement of SEED mentors, Heal the City, and dozens of other advocates in the community, a group of students from right here in Trenton now have the tools they need for a prosperous future ahead.
On Thursday, July 27th, friends, allies, and supporters were gathered at the opulent Lobby Club in Downtown Trenton to celebrate the achievements of gifted college-bound scholars from the Capital City. These youth exemplify what it means to be a devoted student and citizen, defying all odds and serving as an example to other young people in the community. The featured speaker for the evening was Dr. Rob Connors, co-founder of Christine Seix Academy, who shared his words of wisdom with this incredible group of students. Guests also had the opportunity to hear from Stacy Heading, mentor and the man behind the HELP Scholarship, and several other attendees who sought to pour into these youth.
While sharing, Dr. Connors noted, “Look around, you’ve got all of these amazing people that have poured into you, but they’ve also taught you things, in particular, how to pay it forward. And here’s the thing: sometimes, we get into new environments and say I don’t have time to do that yet. Start building a habit of immediately paying it forward in your new environment. Let me tell you what you’re going to get from that: you’re going to get this feeling of joy; you’re going to get this fortitude that helps you to overcome challenges.”
He continued, “It’s not the house or the shoes. It’s the feeling you get when you leave this world a better place than when you arrive. That’s the key to happiness. So they’re going to tell you it’s about these degrees, it’s about these certificates; no, it’s about figuring out how to be happy. But I guarantee you, if you figure out how to pay it forward, you’ll find your way through and do amazing things in this world.”
After some words of encouragement were shared, one by one, students were called to the podium alongside their families to receive their scholarships. Beaming with pride, there is no doubt that with this assistance, these students will go on to do incredible things. When reflecting on this marvelous group of young people, Mr. Heading noted, “We could be talking about some crazy things that young people are doing in the community, and we put a lot of energy into that, and that’s okay; they need that love too. But let me tell you something: some are doing the right thing and are in this room right now. They need to be touched also to let them know: we see you, so continue doing the right thing, and we’re going to help you do the right thing through this scholarship.”
The HELP Scholarship was designed to fill the gap many traditional financial aid and scholarships would not cover. Funds from this scholarship were designated to cover costs like travel, lodging, and other miscellaneous expenses to ensure that these youth were not starting college at a disadvantage. A handful of students were even provided laptops to ensure they had the tech they needed to conquer college. All these students can rest assured knowing that no matter what corner of the country they’ve chosen for college, a village is waiting to uplift and support them here in Trenton. With every student assured that the entire room of supporters was behind them, they can confidently walk ahead towards this exciting new journey.
Many of these students have endured hardship, loss, and obstacles to get where they are today. Now, however, they are nearing the start of one of the most incredible adventures of their lives. From Tuskegee, Alabama, to right here in the Garden State, there’s no doubt that these students will play a transformational role in whatever higher education institution they have chosen to attend. From the team at Trenton Daily, we wish nothing but the best for this truly exceptional group of students – onward and upward!
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