Helping low-income students achieve more than they might imagine

Stefanie Botelho's picture

In spite of being among the top students in his school, Joseph Nelzy was quick to give up on being admitted to one of the nation’s best colleges after he got a rejection letter from Brandeis University, near Boston.

“I had no hope after that,” Nelzy, 18, said in the college advising office at Abraham Lincoln High School, a huge Depression-era building in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach section, where more than half of its students live at or below the poverty line.

But as Nelzy brooded over the rejection, hope arrived the next day in the form of an email–an acceptance to Cornell University’s Class of 2018, which was later followed by an offer of a full scholarship.

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