The New York Giants players got together
and really advocated for a fellowship for students to be placed in the
criminal justice reform world, and really get a chance to understand it, to learn
it, and be the change that we’re hoping to see. I think it’s properly placed,
coming here to John Jay, being the criminal justice, you know, premier school in New York City, and our students are going to have this
opportunity to go into the various facets of criminal justice reform, and
what that truly means -what that work looks like on a day to day. So I’m really
excited about working with both our students, and you know, our
community-based organizations. The talents of the student who has less than
a 3.5(gpa) and hasn’t been flawless throughout their lifetime
their talents are not validated enough in this work, and so I think one of the
other things that in in terms of the impact for this that I see – is what it means to validate
the diverse experiences within a college environment. Players around the league use their
voices in their platform to fight for real change any criminal justice system,
and education is my passion. So in tandem with the Giants, we teamed up to create
this scholarship, which will give you a stipend, and a paid internship -but also
getting your degree and earning valuable experience in the criminal justice system The New York Giants Touchdown fellowship is
giving me experience in jail and prison reform The opportunity to study abroad An internship with the Vera Institute
in the Restoring Promises Program An internship with the Bronx Defenders An opportunity to further MY education and
to work with members of MY community. I wanted to create the Trailblazer
Scholarship to honor the part of the John Jay student life experience that
inherently makes them a trailblazer themselves. You know Vielka Holness
cared deeply for increasing diversity in the legal profession. It’s really why the
Pre-Law Institute was created and was the ultimate goal
of her everyday job. Vielka Holness was a trailblazer herself,
and I’m calling this the Trailblazer scholarship to honor that part of her
professional experience. John Jay students are first-generation
students, they’re students who -they’ve already overcome so much, and should use
those personal experiences to propel them to exceed. My hope is to inspire others
to lift as we climb as we navigate our own careers not to forget to continue opening
the doors for those who are coming behind us. When I was 18, I first went to college
and it was there that a lot of difficulties from my childhood–
I suffered trauma and abuse and did not do well in school and ended up having to
drop out. I kind of like floundered for quite a while and I didn’t even deal
with my history of trauma and abuse for a long time. I felt like a failure.. I
blamed myself for not being able to go to college like everyone else -not like
any of my friends who were doing really well, and just I felt like I didn’t have
a future, and that I was never going to become anything, and I was just gonna be
a mess my entire life I felt that I wasn’t ready because I was still young
and not only that I was… I was a parent a new parent I went to therapy and I
started to unpack all of the trauma of my entire life, and thought that I had
kind of like “figured my life out” and then having to rethink everything, -and so
I worked on myself, and decided that I had always wanted to get a Bachelors of
Science and so I applied to John Jay I mean if you decide well okay fine I have to
work I have to support my kids and then oh, I want to go back to school, there’s
no one really to support that and you have to work like a “triple lifestyle”
to actually afford to go back to school. Since 1987 the Women’s Forum has
established an Education Fund to women over 35 who have chosen to go back to
school, to establish a career get back on track and give back to their community and their family We are helping them
along with others to get over those obstacles and that also goes to the
unrestricted nature of the grant. There are women that don’t have a computer
that have used this to buy a computer that’s a necessary tool in any academic
career. There are others that have used this money as babysitting, so that they
can juggle their separate roles in this world. To have the school really step up
as John Jay has, and said, “we really want to recognize our scholars and make them
feel special,” -makes the members of The Women’s Forum’s Education Fund
feel special as well.