Olha Vasyliv ’23 wins $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant
Mayra Valle '14 unveiled a Connecticut College sweatshirt and proudly announced her decision to attend Connecticut College in front of a large auditorium of people at her high school's Senior Signing Day event last spring.
Little did she know, her enthusiastic announcement would be seen by millions when the video clip was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show Sept. 20.
Valle attended a YES Prep Public School in Houston, Texas, one of six groundbreaking charter schools highlighted on the show. The unique school system, which received a $1 million grant from Oprah's Angel Network, requires its students to participate in longer school days, a longer school year, college research trips, summer school and summer opportunities, including camps, pre-college programs and research and volunteer projects. Students also dedicate one Saturday each month to community service projects.
To celebrate students' college acceptances -- for the last 10 years, 100 percent of YES PREP seniors have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities -- the school system plans a Senior Signing Day event for seniors to announce where they will be attending college.
"Students from the entire district come to support the seniors, and every campus has a cheer to get the crowd pumping," Valle said. "It is such an amazing event."
Winfrey aired a clip of the event that shows a student announcing her decision to attend Boston University, followed by a student announcing his plans to attend Dartmouth College. Valle then announces to the cheering crowd that she will attend Connecticut College.
Valle says students in Texas don't hear much about schools from the Northeast, but she became interested in Connecticut College after her college counselor mentioned it on several occasions. Then, she discovered one of her teachers, Manny Munoz '08, was an alumnus.
"He told me about his experience and encouraged me to attend Spring Preview. It was amazing, and I knew this was the place for me," Valle said. "I visited other schools, like Davidson and Boston University, but none compared to Conn. The people here were so candid and kind, I could not have asked for more."