This past Saturday morning (November 21, 2009), often a time to sleep late, watch TV or go shopping, the doors of Central Harlem’s Wadleigh High School for Visual and Performing Arts were open for parents and students who heard the call to attend an educational forum entitled “How to Send Your Child to College.” The event was sponsored by State Senator Bill Perkins.
This forum is the second in a series that the senator’s office is sponsoring to ensure that the opportunities and the necessity of higher education are bridged among the youth of the Harlem community. Attaining the resources needed to support a college student today can be not just difficult, but downright impossible for many working families if they’re unable to take advantage of the many financial aid programs, scholarships, grants and even low-cost loans that are available.
Senator Perkins introduced parents, students and community leaders in the opening session to the morning presenters and informed everyone, “The focus of this forum was shaped by the feedback we got from our previous educational forum in February, where we surveyed participants on what kinds of information did we need to focus on in the future. You said financial aid.”
The senator went on to say “We have brought some of the best and most knowledgeable minds in the educational financial aid community to inform you on how to maneuver the maze of criteria, applications and deadlines to equip your family to be successful in financing a higher education. We have representatives from New York State Educational Opportunity Programs for both state and private schools, as well as from the City University system. You will hear and get information on how the federal government and private financial institutions can serve you and where you can find scholarships and grants for school.”
Senator Perkins was most impressed by a young sixth grader who had the confidence to stand and ask the presenters, “I want to go to U.C.L.A., and I would like you to tell me what I need to do to be able to afford it.” A proud mother and impressed audience felt this young man set the tone for a successful day.
The senator indicated that the surveys from that day’s forum would once again guide the focus of future forums.