Great expectations

Two Baton Rouge high school seniors received Gates Millennium scholarships with the help of Baton Rouge Youth Coalition. These good-through-graduation scholarships are given to 1,000 students throughout the United States to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the accredited university of their choice. Thirty thousand students apply.

“It is a transformational opportunity,” says Lucas Spielfogel, executive director of BRYC. “And it’s especially heartening since these two students attend two of our city’s perennially underperforming public schools.”

Dominique Scott, of Scotlandville High, and Aaliyah Furqan, of Capitol High, had excellent test scores and high ambition when they became part of the BRYC program. But both students benefited from the personal mentoring they received during their senior year as well as the resources available through the nonprofit. Scott will be attending Auburn University, while Furqan will be attending the University of Alabama.

“Our goal at BRYC is to ensure high-achieving, under-resourced teens have the tools and coaching they need to get into and graduate from great colleges,” says Lucas Spielfogel. “There are an unfathomable amount of scholarships available out there. The students who need these scholarships the most know the least about them.”

Spielfogel knows firsthand about the difficulties of navigating the school system. This Yale graduate with All-Ivy Academic Honors taught seventh grade at Baker Middle School through Teach For America for two years before joining the BRYC team. He saw bright students suffer due to lack of resources and experience.

“BRYC’s greatest value is putting these students around other motivated students. It recalibrates their expectations,” says Spielfogel. “BRYC trains the students holistically so that they will have the ultimate exposure to the opportunities available.”