Since 2002, A Better Chance of Westport has been giving motivated, outstanding minority youth, the opportunity to achieve their dreams through education. With the support of their families, our scholars apply to this game-changing program in the hope of achieving a better future. It is our belief that these young men, through their experiences while attending Staples High School, one of Connecticut's and the nation's top performing high schools, and in their involvement with the Westport community, will become successful members of society, capable of leading the way not only for themselves but also for others who will follow.
In the Fall of 2006, Jahari Dodd joined the A Better Chance of Westport program. He immediately made an impact on both our town and especially, the Staples High School community. After graduating from Staples in 2010, Jahari, now known as Jay, continued his studies at Tufts University where he majored in Sociology and minored in English. Jay has taken his writing to a more national platform as a regular blogger for The Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/jay-dodd/.
We encourage you to take a look at his thoughts. They are provocative, interesting and makes the Westport community proud that we were an important part of Jay’s growth and education. In May, Jay graduated from Tufts and is now working for the Community Engagement Fellow at The Right Question Institute, a community resource non-profit with focuses in education and health care. As we knew from his first day in Westport, Jay is someone to keep an eye on.
Ruben Guardado and Khaliq Sanda, hailing from San Diego, CA and Lawrenceville, GA respectively, graduated on June 20th from Staples High School. Sixteen alumni have now graduated from Staples High School through the A Better Chance of Westport program. Ruben will be attending the University of Southern California (USC) where he will major in mechanical engineering. Khaliq will be at Duke University. Khaliq wrote in an article for the summer newsletter, "Although the transition from San Diego, CA and Lawrenceville, GA to Westport was sometimes difficult, the triumphs always outweighed the lower points and both of us would never have traded this opportunity. The lessons that we have learned as well as the relationships that we have formed are everlasting. These experiences make Westport a very special place to us, just as it is for everyone in the community."
For the 2014-2015 school year, we once again have a full house with eight scholars. We are very excited to welcome Ali Sanoh from the Bronx, New York and Jarod Ferguson from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the A Better Chance of Westport Family. Ali, an avid basketball player, plays a mean electric bass guitar and is quite the math student. He has two sisters, one of whom is his twin. Ali hopes to play basketball professionally one day and in some way, give back to his community. And if the basketball career doesn’t quite pan out, Ali is also interested in becoming a guidance counselor.
Jarod, a hard-core sports fan, has fun tracking sports stats of all the major players especially from baseball, football and basketball. He enjoys playing basketball and hopes to make the Staples Team. History is one of his favorite subjects. He also enjoys watching cooking shows, especially Master Chef. Merrill, our cook, may have competition in the kitchen this year. Jarod is following in his older sister’s footsteps: She was an A Better Chance Scholar in Pennsylvania.
Our scholars were very busy this summer with internships, outdoor education and pre-college academic programs, jobs and teen community service trips. Luis traveled to Costa Rica as part of the Adventures Cross-Country Program. He participated in many recreational activities as well as helped in local community restoration projects. Thomas returned as a counselor to the "City Kids Wilderness Project". Thomas, a 5-year-veteran, instructed and participated in various camping activities such as hiking and white water kayaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Christopher attended the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program at UC Santa Cruz for the first three weeks of summer vacation. During his third year at CTY, he took a course about the mathematics of money. The rest of the summer Christopher interned at the radio station KPWR-Power 106 in Los Angeles. Adrian had an internship coordinated by the "Futures and Options" organization. Adrian’s interests are in law and working with others. Also exploring possible career options this summer was Mannasses. He worked with his father at Cedar Crest, a medical center in New Jersey. Manny was very excited to be exposed to the medical field since he is very interested in possibly becoming a doctor one day. Samuel took a Geometry course in Atlanta to get a "head start" in math before his sophomore year and also worked on upping his tennis game at tennis day camp.
Our graduates, Khaliq and Ruben were very busy this summer in Westport. Khaliq traveled with his church missionary group to a Navajo Reservation to help restore their community and homes. Khaliq then returned to Westport and worked once again at the Internal Medicine Associates of Westport. Spending time with his friends and family was a priority before going off to Duke. Ruben was very excited to be a counselor at Compo Beach Day Camp and also to have the chance to be able to hang with his Westport friends during the summer. Ruben ended his summer in Westport by participating in the Pan Mass Challenge, a 192-mile bike ride which raised money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He is now off to begin his college adventure at USC. We will miss them both terribly.