As the semester came to a close, senior Scholars, Youth Advocates, Mentors, and staff began preparing for an online graduation that would highlight the journey and achievements of the graduating class. The virtual graduation was attended by Scholars, parents, Mentors, and Parsons staff and faculty, both past and present. The graduation started with acknowledgment of all the scholars had accomplished this year by our Program Associate Manager Francisco Donoso followed by Program Administrator Estelle Maisonett and College Access Coordinator Juliet Gomez. Afterward, Advocates Havanna Fisher and Kevin Cadenas gave their remarks to the class and presented each Scholar, their portfolio, and Capstone Projects to the audience.
In the 2020 Capstone course taught by Blanka Amezkua, Scholars created artworks focused on the idea of family. Throughout the semester students explored the AAA3A (Alexander Avenue Apartment 3A) Gallery in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx which exists within Blanka’s private home. Throughout the course, Scholars learned about the Bronx, specifically the changing neighborhood of Mott Haven. They discussed the importance of nurturing artist run spaces and how the experiences they provide differ radically from larger established art venues. Through the use of many materials, student works highlighted the different ways art and culture can be seen, understood, and experienced. Scholars learned firsthand how contemporary art professionals tap into their many skills to balance the work of playing many roles at once.
After introducing each scholar and their final projects, Advocates revealed their surprise tribute to the senior class: the PSP Class of 2020 website! The website included profiles with each Scholars biography and portfolio, class trips, Capstone projects and a congratulations video featuring members of the PSP community. Scholars received a college-ready graduation kit from Blick, Graduating Scholar Scholarship and a 2020 LookBook designed by Mentors Priscilla Villacres and Carlos “Daniel” Vargas. The graduation ended with a speech by senior scholar John Edwards who thanked his peers, advocates, mentors, and staff for providing a nurturing community to produce art and create social change. His encouraging words and recalled memories emphasized all the qualities that make the class of 2020 undeniably special. They are persistent, intelligent, humorous and creative change makers that in light of the pandemic accomplished everything they set out to and more.
The Parsons Scholars Program is incredibly proud of the resilience and persistence demonstrated by the senior class to end this year successfully. We wish the class of 2020 a prosperous freshman year in college and look forward to seeing their careers continue to come into fruition.