May 21, 2020 Category: Stories

A New Chapter for The Fresh Air Fund’s College Connections Program (CCP) Students

Graduation for The Fresh Air Fund’s College Connections Program (CCP) students will be very different than they had expected. Although we will not be celebrating in-person, we are planning ways to celebrate our students as they step into a new chapter in their lives.

“I am very excited for our CCP students to graduate,” says Angela Bonato, CCP Manager. “I acknowledge that these are uncertain times, but our seniors have shown a lot of persistence that will pay off in their future college experiences.”

CCP provides high school students enrolled in The Fund’s academic enrichment and leadership development programs with the resources, support and tools they need as they navigate barriers to education, transition to college and maintain a high level of engagement and support until they graduate.

“I got into all the colleges I applied to and I chose Hunter College! I was a little worried because there are a lot of financial things to consider, but thankfully I learned so much in CCP about how to manage my finances and apply for financial aid. I thought that was really helpful,” said Ash, a 17-year-old CCP student, about the impact of mentorship in CCP.

CCP students receive guidance from mentors through the college application process and all through their college years. Recently, CCP has switched to virtual programming and students have continued to meet with their students once a week. The strong relationships that students have built with mentors and staff has been invaluable as they continue to support each other within the new virtual program model.

“It was comforting, and I was thankful that we do have the technology to be able to do things like have virtual meetings. When I was talking to Angela, she was always giving me advice about how to stay motivated by having three affirmations to say to yourself every day, and I’ve been doing that daily and it’s been really helpful,” Ash said.

Brianna, an 18-year-old CCP student graduating from the Academy of Mount St. Ursula was accepted to ten colleges. She’s been a Fresh Air camper since she was just 12 years old and has grown through her participation in the Career Awareness Program (CAP) and now CCP.

“I feel like if I hadn’t gone to camp, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Camp Mariah taught us about interviews, the college process and careers – it even taught me a lot about my love for acting,” Brianna said. Recently, Brianna has made the exciting decision to attend SUNY Potsdam in the Fall. Brianna is the first in her family to attend college.

Brianna, an 18-year-old CCP graduating student made the exciting decision to attend SUNY Potsdam in the Fall.

“Being a part of CCP helped me with the college process. I want to double major in theater and creative writing and minor in film, but I also want to do research into forensic science. I chose writing and theater because I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember, and same with acting,” Brianna says. “I wanted to go to SUNY Potsdam, since it is a school that provides classes in my interests to pursue my dream career.”

Brianna’s pursuit to study creative writing, film, theater and forensic science stems from her love of learning – which was nurtured at Camp Mariah. Brianna’s mentor once told her, “It’s okay to focus on what you love to do, but don’t turn away other opportunities to learn about something else.”

Brianna’s mom, Luciana Brown, has always been proud of her daughter, but is especially excited for her to graduate high school and for her future as she starts college.

“I’ve told Brianna how proud I am of her countless times and to focus and work hard while she is in college. I express that I know she’ll be okay. I know with her demeanor and how mature she is, Brianna’s a leader.” Luciana said.

Throughout the years, Luciana has seen the impact of the CCP program on Brianna and how she’s managed to navigate college applications and be prepared for what’s ahead.

“CCP helped a lot regarding financial aid, college tours, helping her prep for her essays, SAT and PSAT prep,” Luciana says. “At Brianna’s high school , they were helpful, but Brianna was ahead of the curve because of CCP. The program has helped Brianna and I tremendously.”

“Despite the challenges of the current situation, there is still so much excitement for our students,” Angela said. “The Fresh Air Fund community is celebrating their accomplishments and hard work! I will miss them, but I know they are destined for great things.”

Congratulations to our 2020 High School graduates!

List of College Decisions (to date):

Boston University
Brooklyn College
SUNY Buffalo
City Tech
College of Staten Island
Hunter College
John Jay
Medgar Evers
SUNY Oswego
SUNY Plattsburg
SUNY Potsdam
Princeton University
SUNY Stony Brook

Learn more about the College Connections Program here