A Message from Tenzin

Dear Stride family,

I cannot believe how fast this school year passed by, and like that, I am done with the first year of my college. As a college freshmen I learned so much, academically, and intellectually, but more importantly, how to become a well-rounded thinker and person. I would like to thank all of Stride’s generous and supportive donors, wonderful mentors, and the whole Stride family for their continuous support in motivating and inspiring students like, Alejandra and I to reach higher.

This past year, I have learned so much as a student, woman, daughter, friend, and thinker. At St. Joseph’s, I met amazing professors, friends and classmates who taught me to become a stronger individual. I was definitely triggered to think more broadly, and view different topics and circumstances through different perspectives. I would describe my first year of college as very challenging, rejuvenating, and one exceptionally memorable year. This summer, I will be volunteering again (my 4th year!) at Memorial Sloan Kettering as junior assistant to gain more clinical experience as I pursue my Pre-Medical track. I have already started working there, and so far, I am really enjoying my time there with all the wonderful and inspiring individuals I am surrounded by.

I will be returning to school the first week of September. I am excited to once again, explore interesting adventures within the college environment. I would like to sincerely thank each and everyone who has been part of Stride! Thank you! I am extremely grateful for all your help.

Tenzin Yingsal

Stride’s First Class Heading to College!

As a mother of a 17 month old, I can’t say I am familiar with empty nest syndrome quite yet, but if it feels anything like what I experienced sitting across the table from Stride’s two current high school graduates, for a celebratory graduation dinner, I can’t say I want to experience it again anytime soon.

I am mixed both with excitement and a little bit of sadness. Stride had the incredible pleasure of getting to know two talented and driven women when they were just girls, entering Washington Irving High School for the very first time as eager and starry eyed freshman. Four years later, two confident and intelligent women sit before me, eager to tackle their future. Alejandra Romero has set her sights on gaining a degree in teaching and will be attending The College of Staten Island of the City of NY and Tenzin Yingsal, a healer at heart, is heading to St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, NY and later medical school.

Both students are equipped with their strong intellect and social prowess and prepared to tackle the challenges ahead and I truly believe that they will achieve anything that they set their mind to.

While we enjoyed a meal together just days after high school let out for the last time for these girls, we reflected back on the past four years and how far they have come both in their studies and with their confidence. I had the opportunity to read through their yearbook (both girls sat on the yearbook committee and were proudly flaunting the results!) and I was delighted to see that, true to form, Alejandra was voted “sweetest” and Tenzin was voted “most likely to succeed.” In my opinion, both girls are already the sweetest and most successful high school graduates I have had the pleasure of knowing.

The girls high school graduation was an equally moving experience, held at Riverside Church on Manhattan’s upper west side. Stride’s very own Tenzin was the Valedictorian and spoke eloquently (check this post if you are interested in reading her incredible speech) and Alejandra glowed as she received her well-deserved and hard earned diploma.

The next four years have much in store for the girls and thanks to the incredible support from each of you who have contributed over the years, both students will receive a $16,000 scholarship to be distributed in increments of $4,000 for each year that they are enrolled for up to 4 years.

I, along with the Stride team look forward to keeping you posted on the girls as they navigate their respective collegiate experiences!

Chloe Hall, President

Text of WIHS 2012 Valedictorian Speech

The following is the text of the WIHS 2012 Valedictorian speech delivered by Stride Scholar Tenzin Yingsal:

Good afternoon parents, faculty, honored guests, Class of 2012! I feel extremely honored and privileged to be speaking here today on behalf of the graduating class of Washington Irving High School. It is a day that we thought would never come, yet here we stand commencing a new journey which will lead to numerous other journeys in our lives. Many of you have seen me either in class, or walking through the halls and as we stand here today, I now realize how little we truly know about one another so I would like to share with you all a short story of my life.

In the late fifties, after the Chinese occupation of Tibet, along with many other Tibetans and our spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, my parents went into exile and settled in a refugee camp in the Himalayan region of Nepal, where I was born and stayed for 10 years. I came to the United States in 2005; I was eleven years old and did not know what lay before me. I started middle school and it was my first introduction to the English language and American culture.

As I entered Washington Irving, I realized how quickly my life was changing. During the last four years, I have learned so much about myself and my own roots. I feel truly blessed to be a part of this welcoming and diverse community here at Washington Irving.

At this point in my life, I have a better idea of my past and present, and how I would like to see myself in the future. I know for a fact that I am the granddaughter of a traditional Tibetan doctor, a man of great honor and principles. His service to his community has been an inspiration to me and also a guide. Family stories have become legacies to me, helping define who and what I want to become.
I now know what I want to be. At least, I aim to become someone who will possibly join ‘Doctors without Borders’ one day and make a difference because I believe that the stronger nations and communities should help in providing basic health care to the underprivileged and oppressed everywhere.

Like me, many of you are also shaped by your own past histories that have influenced you to become who you are today as well as shaping what you look forward to tomorrow.

We all understand that in order to truly make a better future, it is essential that we understand who we are and remember where we come from, and we use this to create community by sharing our experiences and stories with each other.

Washington Irving has provided us with the chance to create a society, with boundless opportunities from competitive and rigorous academics, to challenging athletic teams, to beneficial extracurricular-activities. On behalf of the graduating class, I would like to thank the principal, teachers, guidance counselors, and staff. You all have motivated us to continue our education and helped us create goals to work toward. Your invaluable help and guidance in our studies have brought us thus far, and we can now positively anticipate the starting of the next chapter of our lives.

I would like to thank my mentor Ms. Saviola, my teachers Mr. Decker and Ms. Baker and my guidance counselor, Ms. Apeakorang for being such amazing people who have always been there to help me at all times. You all have helped me navigate this path and pushed me towards academic heights that I would have never achieved otherwise. I realize how much I’ve learned and accomplished because of you.

I would like to also thank the Stride Foundation and all its members. I would especially like to thank Roberta Brenner and her family for everything they have done for me. And last, but not least, I would like to thank my relatives, and of course, my family – my mom [thuk-che che Ama) my dad, and brothers, for always being there for me.

You’ve taught me the importance of education, how to gain respect from others, and most significantly, how to assume my roles as daughter, sister, friend and student. You have never failed to give me a shoulder to lean on whenever I needed it the most. Your love and support gave me the space to grow and become the person I am with the dreams I have today.

On behalf of the class, I would like to extend a warm thank you to all of our parents for always being there as we attempted to make sense of the world. You have been our role models, and have supported us throughout our high school years.

Now, I turn to you, my fellow Washington Irving graduates. We’ve done amazing things together. I have been inspired by so many of you, and with you I have been able to cultivate the true meaning of friendship.
So I would like to thank all my friends and in particular Araceli, Sandipa, and Viviana, you are the best! I can say that my friends have given immense meaning to my high school years from the many crazy and wonderful moments through the bad, the confusing, and good times.

You have made so many moments that began in doubt or confusion, end in joy. Thank you. We shared these struggles with our teachers, and each day was a new beginning, and no matter what happened, each one of us learned something that allowed us to better understand the roads we have and will travel.

We live in a highly developed and diverse country where we should not take anything for granted, and I feel that we all are very fortunate to have all the opportunities that others in disadvantaged countries are unable to enjoy. History has shown us time and again that all great things began with individuals and their dreams; and the best dreams begin with love and understanding. The conception of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin with individual hard work and passion. Let us all strive collectively with imagination, courage, and optimism to bring about a better world in the years to come.

I say to you, my fellow graduates that some of us will follow in footsteps that we can’t yet imagine. My hope is that the Washington Irving High School community enjoys peace and prosperity, and that each of you in the Class of 2012, have a successful and cheerful future, in which your wildest dreams are realized.

Thank you.

Putting Education on Our Shoulders – the Stride Tote

It is that time of year again. Families and friends have gathered together for the big meal and we have begun the annual practice of taking stock of all of the things in our lives that we can be thankful for as we prepare for the holiday season.

We at Stride are extremely thankful for the support we have received from our donors. We are preparing to send our inaugural class to college, and we could not have done it without you.

Now it is time for us to begin thinking of the next generation of Stride students. Stride works with children living in high poverty/high risk communities by providing them with both financial and emotional aid as they work to achieve a higher education.

These are the kids that need our help.

As a way for Stride to say thank you for your continued support, we are offering for the first time, some Stride swag! Donors who contribute $40.00 by December 31, 2012 will receive our new tote bag.

Not only is does this stylish bag proclaim you a supporter of New York City students and a friend to the environment, it helps send students to college. And that is something we can all be thankful for.

Pretty sweet bag, huh?

To donate, just hit the donate button on the right side of this screen.  Remember, $40.00 = cool new tote bag!

As always, don’t forget to follow us on twitter @stridenyc and check out our new facebook page.


Chloe and the Stride Team

Helping High School Students from Freshmen Year Until College

“In a city where three quarters of New York City students who were high school freshmen in 2006 did not leave high school prepared for college, what happens early on is critical.” Liz Willen, InsideSchools.org

A few weeks ago, InsideSchools.org writer Liz Willen penned a post for the High School Hustle column titled, “Support for Freshmen?” In it she described the multitude of challenges facing students as they transition from middle school into their high school careers. The physical excertion of long commutes and longer days adults can relate to, even if we’ve blocked the trials of growth spurts out of our memories.

The adjustment to larger classes, increased pressure to perform, and adjusting to a more difficult coursework also takes its toll. Willen asks, “… should high school freshmen have some extra help and support, or should they be taught to get their act together on their own, in preparation for the tough and highly competitive world they have now entered?”

We know what our answer is.

At Stride our mission is give students the best opportunity possible to be prepared for life after high school. Part of this is through mentoring and the other part is the Stride scholarship, granted to students in the freshmen year of high school to assure them that their hard work will pay off with a paid-for college education.

Let us know what you think. Should students take responsibility for preparing themselves for their future? Should this be the responsibility of the schools or should nonprofit organizations like Stride be stepping up to assume this role. Let us know what you think by posting a comment to this post on our website, stridenyc.org.

Click here to follow @stridenyc on twitter,

…and Friend our new facebook page here.


We’ve Got Some Work to Do

A Compelling New Website from WNYC and the New York Times

Greetings from Stride!

Recently the New York Times and WNYC radio partnered up to create SchoolBook, a website dedicated to providing data, news, and discussion about the New York City school system. It’s a discussion we wholeheartedly embrace, and it provides a tremendous amount of telling information about the state of education in New York.

Stride focuses on children living in high poverty/high risk communities by providing them with both financial and emotional aid as they work to achieve a higher education. Even in a City as advanced as New York, there is no shortage of high risk communities.

Our partners at Washington Irving High School, for instance, are located right in Union Square, one of the busiest commercial and residential districts in the nation. To the millions of tourists who walk through Union Square every day, poverty is not the word that comes to mind, yet the students there face challenges that simply are not present in the typical high schools.

The results can be seen in the data.

Just 42% of Washington Irving students plan on attending a four year college, and only 40% earn a Regents diploma in four years.

These numbers paint a striking picture of the state of education at Washington Irving, but it is even more astonishing that in New York, these numbers are considered “average.”

Our goal at Stride is to address these alarming numbers by keeping students in school, and encouraging participation beyond graduation. Your donations help make that happen.

We want to encourage you to look around the SchoolBook website, http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook, to learn more about the state of schools in New York City and join the discussion.

You can also go to our recently revamped website, stridenyc.org to learn about our innovative scholarship and mentoring program and how we are working to address dropout rates in public schools.


Chloe and the Stride Team

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Statement on Recent NY Post Articles on Washington Irving High School

You may have seen some articles recently in the NY Post accusing school administrators at Washington Irving High School of finding ways to raise grades for students in order to improve graduation rates.

These articles exemplify how necessary it is in a school district with a dismal 63% four-year graduation rate that we improve the school system the right way: addressing these issues while students are still freshmen, keeping students in school, and encouraging participation in education beyond graduation.

We hope that you continue to support Stride in its mission to improve graduation rates in troubled schools by providing scholarships during the freshman year and taking the fear of not being able to afford a college education off the table. Stride engages students by providing mentoring and support throughout our students high school years. Through your continued support, we can make a true difference in addressing the issues that impact graduation rates at their source.

NY Post Article: http://nyp.st/nYBTrd
NY Post Editorial: http://nyp.st/q0Bu3z

From Tenzin…

One of our students sent me this note the other day. It was so beautifully composed and such a thoughtful letter, that I couldn’t help but share it with all of you…

“I am very fortunate, besieged, excited, ready, and slightly nervous to start my senior year at Washington Irving High School. I would like to thank everyone who has generously and thoughtfully been with me until now. I am so excited to apply to colleges and I am hoping for the best results. Knowing that Stride is supporting me is a great feeling to discover many more opportunities and continue what I have accomplished these past years.” – Tenzin

Chloe Kaplan Hall, President
Stride Foundation