More Than 100 NJ Middle School Students Complete Rigorous Academic Programs with New Jersey SEEDS

Graduates head off to selective schools across the country this fall
On August 1, New Jersey SEEDS – an educational nonprofit that has been transforming the lives of high-achieving, low-income students for more than two decades – celebrated the graduation of more than 100 students from its 14 month programs. The 108 graduates are rising sixth, seventh and ninth grade students enrolled in SEEDS’ Young Scholars and Scholars Programs.

During two summers and every Saturday in between, students participated in rigorous academic classes. With SEEDS, they developed proficiency in mathematics and English, honed their test taking skills, and completed applications to selective middle and high schools across the country. Ninety-seven percent of Scholars and Young Scholars in the Class of 2015 were placed in selective schools with substantial financial aid packages.

“SEEDS Scholars and Young Scholars have worked incredibly hard to advance their education and take charge of their future,” says President Ronni Denes. “In total, the Class of 2015 submitted more than 1,000 applications to schools in New Jersey and across the country. Our students and their families have visited countless campuses and met hundreds of admissions representatives. They received acceptances from 96 institutions in 18 states that offered them more than $5.5 million in financial aid. More importantly, they’ve created an opportunity to receive a world-class education.”

Attendees at this year’s event heard from this year’s keynote speaker, SEEDS alumna, Aamira Garba. Aamira graduated from the Scholars Program in 1999, and went on to Kent Place School and Temple University. Aamira advised this year’s graduates to never let fear stand in their way. The event also featured remarks from two Class of 2015 graduates – Gillian Allou (Scholars Program, Phillips Exeter Academy Class of 2019) and Leah Paul (Young Scholars Program, The Peck School Class of 2018).

Several students were honored for their academic and leadership accomplishments while enrolled in SEEDS:

  • Gillian Allou was named the Amy Ziebarth Scholar for her passion for social justice and strong commitment to SEEDS while enrolled in the Scholars Program.
  • Stewart DeLeon was named the Dwight L. Wilson Scholar for his personal and work ethics, honesty, integrity, and love of education while enrolled in the New Jersey SEEDS Scholars Program.
  • Syeda Islam, Boluwatife Oshuntolu and Stantiago Vargas were the recipients of Cavalier Scholarships, which help to underwrite tuition at independent schools for high-achieving students. The scholarships are generously awarded by the F&P DeRosa Memorial Fund.
  • Qingying Li was named the Blair MacInnes Scholar for her outstanding academic achievement and dedication to education while enrolled in the New Jersey SEEDS Scholars Program.
  • Leah Paul was named the Alumni Scholar for representing the ideal SEEDS graduate while enrolled in one of SEEDS’ Scholars Programs.
  • Kaylynn Wilson was named the Edward and Barbara Becker Scholar for her outstanding academic achievement and exemplary work while in the Young Scholars Program.
  • Christy Zheng was presented with the Dean’s Award for her overall accomplishments, strong leadership, citizenship, exceptional academic qualities and great personality while enrolled in the Scholars Program.

“I’m so proud of our Scholar and Young Scholars,” says Imani Gilliam, Dean of Scholars Programs. “Participating in SEEDS and excelling in our challenging curriculum, while remaining in good standing at their home schools and participating in extracurricular activities is not easy. These students have shown us that they have the drive and dedication to be successful on whatever paths they choose.”

Congratulations to the Scholars and Young Scholars Class of 2015.

Young Scholars Program

Lucy Alaeto – Newark Academy
Laliah Berry – The Pingry School
Genesis Flores – Morristown-Beard School
Grace Jones – Kent Place School
Karl Kanhai – Montclair Kimberley Academy
Maria-Victoria Liberati – Science Park High School
Edwin Mensah-Boateng – Montclair Cooperative School
Eliezer Noel – Pride Academy
Deborah Ode – Morristown-Beard School
Kofi Oduro-Manu – All Saints Episcopal Day School
Boluwatife Oshuntolu – Newark Academy
Leah Paul – The Peck School
Jaileen Portorreal – Kent Place School
Collens Shabani – STEM Academy
Aitalia Sharpe – The Peck School
Christen Trejo – Chatham Day School
Chelsea Urgilez – Chatham Day School
Tracy Ware – All Saints Episcopal Day School
Kaylynn Wilson – Fay School

Scholars Program

Ahmed Ahmed – George School
Mohammed Ahmed – Health Sciences Technology High School
Shaheer Ahmed – Montclair Kimberley Academy
Gillian Allou – Phillips Exeter Academy
Cristina Altamirano – Benedictine Academy
Mashuda Aly – Passaic County Technical School
Elijah Atwell – Woodberry Forest School
Kyra Barriteau – Fryeburg Academy
Ka’ron Boone – Newark Collegiate
Madison Boylan – Buxton School
Raven Calloway – Gill St. Bernard’s School
Thomas Campbell– The Pingry School
Miguel Cardona – Church Farm School
Eric Cardoza – The Hill School
Michael Castillo – Dwight-Englewood School
Alejandra Chavez – Middlesex School
Amina Choudhry – Masters School
Andra Constantin – Kent Place School
Bryan Coronel – Gill St. Bernard’s School
Donovan Dabonka – Church Farm School
Stewart DeLeon – Cushing Academy
Assata Dotson – Moorestown Friends School
Tatiyana Dunkers – Dublin School
Marvelous Ekeh – Putney School
Musheerah El-Amin – Kent School
Ngone Fall – Northfield Mount Hermon School
Mallory Fritsch – George School
Arthur Garcia – Dublin School
Brayant Garcia – Kiski School
Niya Grier – Garrison Forest School
Chelsea Guzman – Montclair Kimberley Academy
Shanil Henriquez – Salem Academy
Tahj Henry-Jackson – Seton Hall Preparatory School
Juan Hermo – Delbarton School
Katherine Hernandez – Wardlaw-Hartridge School
Yahira Herrera – North Bergen High School – STEM Academy
Cristle Ike – St. Andrew’s School (DE)
Syeda Islam – Saddle River Day School
Mario Iturria – Newark Academy
Lucinda Jeune – St. Paul’s School
Damoi Kermah – Pomfret School
Jessica Lage – Choate Rosemary Hall
Qingying Li – Deerfield Academy
Natalie Locarno – Taft School
Mikhael Lockhart – Delbarton School
Julia Lopes – Stuart Country Day School
Zohaib Malik – Western Reserve Academy
Lannea Martinez – Montclair Kimberley Academy
Joseph Medina – Church Farm School
Katherine Menendez – Dana Hall
Paris Miller – Newark Academy
Josline Mitoguena – Hotchkiss School
Sofia Morales – Westminster School
Nisrine Mraihy – North Bergen High School
Sarah Munoru – Linsly School
Jasmine Mustafa – Blair Academy
Kellie Navarro – Tabor Academy
Joanne Novembre – Oak Knoll School
Gloriah Omwanda – Putney School
Kaylen Oweh – Rutgers Preparatory School
Matthew Ramirez – Cambridge School of Weston
Nicky Ramirez – West Nottingham Academy
Natalia Ramirez – The Pingry School
Rubi Rivas – Westtown School
Elaine Rodriguez – Wardlaw-Hartridge School
Alejandro Rodriguez-Monge – Linsly School
Nashleen Salazar – Princeton Day School
Kimberly Sanchez – North Bergen High School – STEM Academy
Jada Scotland – Northfield Mount Hermon School
Laury Senecal – Morristown-Beard School
Yanabi Sierra – New Hampton School
Manjoban Singh – St. George’s School
Emma Sperr – Rutgers Preparatory School
Angel Suero – Science Park High School
Skylar Sylvester – Hudson School
Adam Szyluk – Union County Magnet School
Melanie Tlaseca-Verde – Phillips Academy – Andover
Mohammed Uddin – Fryeburg Academy
Marlon Valverde – Concord Academy
Gwenyth Van Doren – St. Timothy’s School
Santiago Vargas – Saddle River Day School
David Vasquez – Choate Rosemary Hall
Diane Velasco – Pennington School
Celenah Watson – Westminster School
Sanaa Williams – Christ the King Preparatory School
Julissa Xajil – Chatham Hall
Nicole Yang – Hackley School
Christy Zheng – Milton Academy

To receive high-resolution photos, please contact Theresa Murray at or at 862.227.9145.

About New Jersey SEEDS
Since its inception in 1992, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. To date, more than 2,000 scholars have benefited from its programs. For more information, visit

Special thanks to the following corporations and foundations for supporting the Scholars and/or Young Scholars Programs this year: an anonymous corporation; Bank of America; Capital Group Companies; Charles E. and Edna T. Brundage Foundation; Clara Louella Day Jeffrey Charitable Residuary Trust; Coach; Colgate-Palmolive Company; Curtis W. McGraw Foundation; David Mathey Foundation; Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund, Inc.; F.M. Kirby Foundation; Goldman Sachs Gives; Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation; Investors Bank Foundation; Jockey Hollow Foundation; John S. Scurci Foundation; Lillian P. Schenck Fund; Lucy and Eleanor S. Upton Charitable Foundation; Nasdaq; Norman & Bettina Roberts Foundation; The George A. Ohl Jr. Foundation; Page & Otto Marx, Jr. Foundation; PNC Foundation; Ralph M. Cestone Foundation; and Victoria Foundation.