December 15, 2017

Alysha Acosta joins Columbia UniversityEvery year, Columbia University only accepts approximately six percent of the thousands of students who apply. Alysha Acosta, a member of NJCDC's Paterson Youth Council (PYC)—a year-long leadership development program for teens ages 15-18—recently beat the odds and learned that she'll become a member of Columbia's Class of 2022.

Alysha, who's a senior at Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI), received a full scholarship for all four years at Columbia thanks to her experience with the Paterson Youth Council and thanks to the phenomenal support of QuestBridge, a nonprofit program which identifies high-achieving, low-income students and connects them to educational opportunities at 39 partner colleges.

Alysha Acosta joins Columbia UniversityAs a member of the PYC, Alysha assisted in coordinating last month's College Fair and has taken part in many service projects, including making and distributing hundreds of sandwiches for distribution to Paterson's homeless. She said, "The PYC made me realize how important coming together with others who have a common goal can be. Even though I've only been in the PYC for a year, I've made some amazing friends and connections that'll last me a lifetime."

Alysha is an excellent student, has an amazing amount of energy, and is involved in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. In addition to the PYC, Alysha is a member of the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, the Health Occupations Students of America, the National Honor Society, and the World Language Honor Society, and was inducted into the Girls Hall of Fame for the American Association of University Women.

At Columbia, she plans to major in neuroscience and study certain biological patterns within the brain. She developed this interest as a result of having family members who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from their military service.

When asked about her acceptance to Columbia, Alysha said, "Hard work truly does pay off." She also gave credit to QuestBridge, which helped her with the application and scholarship process, saying, "Without QuestBridge, I would not have been able to receive a scholarship to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the world. "

NJCDC CEO Bob Guarasci said, "In a city where too few adults have graduated from college, Alysha's acceptance to Columbia University--with a full scholarship no less--is especially impressive. My colleagues and I are incredibly proud of Alysha and her success inspires us to work even harder on behalf of the young people we serve."

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