As New York City’s public school students prepare for the start of the 2018–19 school year, many of last year’s high school seniors are now starting off the new school year as this year’s college freshmen.

In honor of the City’s newest high school graduates, p.s. alumni asked 18 inspirational City schools alums to participate in its #Celebrate18 campaign and provide some words of advice to the Class of 2018.

See what four of our alumni had to say to the City’s newest grads below, and check out p.s. alumni’s other #Celebrate18 profiles directly on the alumni network’s website!


“The most important thing in achieving great things is your mindset.” — Clinton Ehidom, Frederick Douglass Academy III, ’14

Clinton Ehidom
Frederick Douglass Academy III, ’14

“The most important thing in achieving great things is your mindset. When you have the right mindset and you’re pursuing your goals, you have clarity. If you’re working hard but you don’t have the right mindset, then you’re aimless in your work.

But even when you have the right mindset, it’s important to have the motivation to fuel your fire and energy; it can be the difference between achieving success and not achieving success.

Look at the people around you, and then look at the best of the people around you. Understand how hard they’re working, and work even harder than them if you want to be great. Work hard, but also work SMART.

Be passionate, not so much about what you’re doing, but about where you’re trying to go.

Be resilient, to endure hard times no matter how difficult they may get.

Be persistent, no matter what your situation may be.

Lastly, whatever you start, you should finish; whatever you do, do it well.”

Kelly Alvarez Web

“When it comes to making a change in your life or pursuing something new, be brave.” — Kelly Alvarez, Edward R. Murrow H.S., ’14

Kelly Alvarez
Edward R. Murrow High School, ’14

“My senior year of high school, I watched my friends eagerly tear into their college acceptances as I stood in the office of my guidance counselor, rejection letters in hand. After advocating on my behalf for what felt like centuries, I was finally admitted to Brooklyn College. Looking back, it was the best decision I never made.

When I started college, I vowed not to make the same mistakes I made in high school and to view college as a time for growth. After being appointed by the Dean of the school of business to lead a growing student organization, maintaining a 3.9 GPA throughout all of college, and completing 4 internships, I’ve learned you have the power to change anything you want to.

When it comes to making a change in your life or pursuing something new, be brave. Say yes to the things that scare you and don’t be afraid to pursue what you think you’re not ready for.

You won’t (and shouldn’t) be the same person you were when you started high school or even college. Embrace it.”

Gloria Chin Web

“I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask questions and ask for help…. I now view asking questions and asking for help as a sign of strength, a sign of being engaged, interested, and wanting more.” — Gloria Chin, Columbus H.S., ’96

Gloria Chin
Christopher Columbus High School, ’96

“I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. For many reasons, I never did that growing up. At crucial points in my life – both high and low – people have serendipitously made it their business to step up and step in and lend an ear, offer advice and even help. This happened more often when I was in the formative years of my academic and professional life. I now view asking questions and asking for help as a sign of strength, a sign of being engaged, interested, and wanting more.

Everyone has a story to tell and opting to listen – and asking a question or two – rather than engaging in active conversation, will allow you to learn more about the person talking and whether they’re someone you’d like to connect more with or develop a working relationship with.

I’ve also come to experience that through giving back, I’m able to take further advantage of the lessons learned through asking questions and asking for help in that I’m able to offer it to others, namely those who may not have reached a place where they’re comfortable enough to ask questions and ask for help.

Helping people has always been a part of me, and over the years I’ve learned to hone it so I’m able to truly give back in ways that are exponentially meaningful to me. It’s empowering to be able to give what I’ve learned over the years to others in the hopes they ask me questions and ask for my help, which I’m always happy to answer and give if I can.”

Carmen Echavarria Web

“I’ve learned that you have to be determined–if you say you’ll do something, finish it.” — Carmen Echavarria, Brooklyn Lab School, ’12

Carmen Echavarria
Brooklyn Lab School, ’12

“I worked over 40 hours a week while going to school full-time just to pay my tuition. It took every inch of me to not give up when I was extremely exhausted–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Many days, I worried if it was even worth it.

I’ve learned that you have to be determined– if you say you’ll do something, finish it. You’ll have to make sacrifices and give up a lot, but fight to the end and be willing to die for what you believe in. People telling me that I couldn’t succeed was one of the things that motivated me most; When I’m told no, I find a way.

I didn’t have much support at school, besides a few teachers and professors, but I relied on the powerful women in my life who have made me want to use my degree to be a strong advocate for women. Emotionally and academically, my sister supported me a lot. Turn to your family and loved ones for support, especially when you don’t find it elsewhere. I look to my sister as inspiration; she helped pave the way for me by graduating from college as the first in our family and helps me when I need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from your family and loved ones.

Lastly, have love, and use your heart in everything you do. Do what you love too– you’ll wake up more motivated when you do things you like. The major I chose was something I had an interest in, which motivated me to be interested in class every day.”

For more advice, check out p.s. alumni’s official blog page.

Have advice of your own for the Class of 2018? Leave your thoughts on p.s. alumni’s “Alumni Advice” page and help contribute to the network’s upcoming “Alumni Survival Guide!

On behalf of the Department of Education and p.s. alumni, we wish NYC’s newest college freshmen tremendous success in college and beyond!

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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