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NJCDC Takes 40+ Paterson Teens on Ivy League Tour

NJCDC Takes 40+ Paterson Teens on Ivy League Tour

April 12, 2023

View our Ivy League Tour photos on

As part of our ongoing efforts to prepare Paterson high school students for college, every year we organize and sponsor a two-day trip over spring break for our students to explore Ivy League universities. Since 2017, this tour has brought our students to some of our country's—and the world's—top universities to show them that, with hard work and determination, going to an Ivy League school is within their reach. This year, we brought 41 teens from our Paterson Youth Council and Great Falls Youth Center youth development programs to Harvard, Brown, and MIT.

Bright and early on the morning of Wednesday, April 6, our group of students departed NJCDC's headquarters and embarked on a bus ride up to Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, after a short lunch, they toured the first school on the list—Harvard University! While at America's oldest institution of higher learning, they enjoyed an Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program meet and greet and met with Great Falls Teen Center alum Isabela Gonzalez, who is a member of Harvard's Class of 2026!

Afterward, the group traveled to nearby Boston, where they had a delicious dinner and walked by Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which was founded in 1742. The shopping center now comprises three historic market buildings and a promenade and is home to over 40 local vendors, more than 25 local eateries, and performances by local musicians.

The following morning, our students headed to MIT. While not an Ivy League university, MIT is no slouch—in fact, this year it placed second in U.S. News and World Report's annual rankings of the nation's best colleges and universities. MIT is best known for its STEM programs and many of our students who have a keen interest in STEM were excited to learn more about the programs offered. As MIT says, "At MIT, we revel in a culture of learning by doing. In 30 departments across five schools and one college, our students combine analytical rigor with curiosity, playful imagination, and an appetite for solving the hardest problems in service to society." In addition to touring the beautiful campus, our students attended an MIT Info Session: Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES).

After enjoying a quick lunch, the group headed down to Providence, Rhode Island to tour Brown University. Brown is the nation's seventh-oldest college and continues to be a leading research university. With more than 80 programs to choose from, Brown's Open Curriculum does not outline course requirements, which gives their students more freedom to study what they choose and the flexibility to discover what they love.

The students were all extremely inspired by the two-day trip, which showed them that no college is off limits to them. Paterson Youth Council member and International High School student Maya Mohosin said, "I really enjoyed learning about colleges that have communities that foster diversity and intellectualism. Coming from Paterson, I've never seen this idea being presented as an option to students. Thank you, NJCDC for helping me realize that I can attend an Ivy League school and be successful!

One of Maya's fellow PYC members said, "Before this trip, I thought I knew all about colleges and what it takes to be admitted to schools like Brown, Harvard, and MIT. I thought since I was not a 4.3 GPA student, I would not be able to go to an Ivy League school. However, the information that was given to me throughout the college visits, showed me that I do not have to be 'perfect', I just need to have passion and drive!" He continued, "This trip ignited an eternal flame within my heart to strive to do my best and take every opportunity available."

This is the fifth year NJCDC has held its Ivy League Tour. In recent years, students who went on the trip have matriculated at Yale University, Stanford University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and so many other top schools.

NJCDC's Chief Program Officer David Gelman said, "It is so powerful to see the reaction of our young people when visiting three of the top universities in the world. I think the underlying theme during the entire trip was that 'Paterson youth can do anything.' Meeting and listening to current Ivy League students talk about their experiences and journeys makes the possibility of attending these schools a realistic option for our students. We are grateful to the Harvard, MIT, and Brown communities for their very warm welcome, and of course to Isabela for showing our current high school students that anything is possible!"

Bob Guarasci, NJCDC's CEO, stated that "We originated the concept of the Ivy League Tour to show Paterson students the best universities in the nation, and to help them conceive of themselves as students at these top schools. And as we've seen these last many years, Paterson students are in fact at some of the most elite schools in America—demonstrating that Paterson students can compete with their peers from across the nation."

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