Chancellor Richard A. Carranza and the New York Mets will honor 131 New York City high school graduates with the Remarkable Achievement and Recognition of Excellence Award at Citi Field. The award acknowledges the academic and extracurricular successes of recent graduates who have faced significant obstacles.
This year’s honorees hail from all five boroughs—38 attended high school in Brooklyn, 29 in Manhattan, 29 in the Bronx, 26 in Queens and 9 on Staten Island.
“Our Remarkable Graduates have demonstrated extraordinary talent and resilience, and I look forward to following the amazing things they accomplish in college and as they start their careers,” said Carranza. “They are the pride of New York City and our public schools, and I am excited to celebrate their achievements with them and their families.”
“The Mets are thrilled to host the Remarkable Achievement Awards and ceremony for the fifth year,” said Jeff Wilpon, Mets chief operating officer. “We are honored to showcase New York City’s most inspiring graduates. Their resilience and perseverance is an inspiration to us all.”
Each year, teachers, guidance counselors, principals and other school staff nominate students for the award. Honorees have excelled during their high school careers, received their diplomas and are going on to post-secondary education.
Honoree Keren Raymond turned her grief into drive.
At the start of her junior year, Raymond moved from Pennsylvania to New York City and began school at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn. She had recently lost her brother and her mother’s health was in decline. When her family moved into a shelter, Raymond immersed herself in school and turned her grief and challenges into drive. She enrolled in AP Biology, excelled in her high school’s competitive Medical Assistant Program and graduated as a certified clinical medical assistant and certified billing and coding specialist, and she is certified in CPR. Raymond will attend Kingsborough Community College and hopes to serve her community as a registered nurse.
“Keren Raymond is a self-motivated and empathetic student who strives for excellence at every turn,” said Keith S. Holgate, assistant principal at Clara Barton High School. “She is the backbone of her family and caretaker of her mother and younger sister. Clara Barton High School has been so proud to support her in helping her achieve her goal of graduating with a CTE-endorsed diploma and going on to college.”
Honoree Nicholas Williams overcame life’s challenges on the football field and beyond.
Williams has faced great hardship, but that hasn’t stopped him from achieving his goals. He was raised by multiple family members and even friends after the loss of his mother and his father was placed in a long-term health care facility. During his time at the High School for Youth and Community Development in Brooklyn, Williams has exceeded expectations, maintaining a high average and being an integral part of the Erasmus Hall citywide championship football team. Williams will attend Saint Francis College in the fall, where he has received a partial track scholarship.
“I have treasured having Nicholas in our school and watching him grow,” said Marie Prendergast, principal of High School for Youth and Community Development Erasmus Hall. “He always has a ready smile and is one of the kindest young men I have ever met.”
Honoree Sam DiFazio stayed true to himself in the face of adversity.
When DiFazio started his freshman year at World Journalism Preparatory School in Queens, he had recently come out as transgender. After a period of adjustment, his family supported him as he began the process of actively transitioning. DiFazio found additional support among friends and teachers, and was awarded the Triple C Award for character, commitment and courage his senior year. Even in the face of great challenges, DiFazio has remained true to himself. He will attend LaGuardia Community College this fall, where he will study radiologic technology.
“Sam embodies the heart and soul of WJPS,” said Janine Polla Werner, principal of World Journalism Preparatory School. “His shining example has made everyone, students and staff alike, better and kinder people. He has lit a path for other students to feel confident about who they are and who they can become.”
Honoree Leyenny Gonzalez’s persistence and determination led her to college.
For as long as she can remember, Gonzalez dreamed of going to college. Yet, as the daughter of immigrant parents who did not attend college, she struggled with the process, and because of financial hardship and challenges at home, she wasn’t sure her dream of attending college would be possible. Throughout her four years at Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology in the Bronx, Gonzalez excelled in the classroom and met as frequently as possible with her principal and college counselor, determined to make her dreams a reality. Gonzalez applied for as many scholarships as she could and this spring learned she had received a full ride to attend the University of Rochester, where she plans to study psychology and art history.
“Leyenny is a remarkable young woman,” said Maria Herrera, principal of Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology. “Life has presented her with some very tough challenges, yet she has worked through them and overcome obstacles in order to continue to strive and reach her goals. She takes advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.”
Honoree Charlotte Nealy found herself in a new city and thrived in a new culture.
When Nealy began her freshman year at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in Manhattan, she had recently immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, forging a new independence without her parents. Nealy initially struggled to communicate in a new language and find a sense of belonging in her new surroundings. But, with the support of her advisors, teachers and friends, she was able to find her voice and become an advocate for other students who faced similar struggles. Over her four years, Nealy achieved perfect attendance, completed two business internship programs, held a part-time job and was awarded the Principal Recognition Award. She will attend City College of New York’s School of Architecture and hopes to become an interior designer.
“Charlotte was one of the most outstanding students to graduate Hudson both academically and in terms of her social and emotional growth as a young woman in New York City,” said Phil Linder, senior team leader at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies. “She taught herself English, thrived in AP classes and was a true role model both to her peers and to younger students in our school.”