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Ish, 20, graduated from Brooklyn Collaborative, a NYC Outward Bound Schools, three years ago. He was the first in his family to go to college, and he was thrilled to be attending a two-year accounting program at City Tech, a CUNY institution in Brooklyn.

During his freshman year of college, Ish was invited to participate in College Crew, our one-year advisory program that supports our most vulnerable alumni: those enrolled in CUNYs with graduation rates of 50% or less. During College Crew, led by our Alumni Manager Julia, Ish met weekly with 19 other college freshman to discuss the challenges of college and share techniques to overcome them, from time management, to advocating for oneself, to practicing self-care.

Ish, center, on an Outward Bound trip in Minnesota in 2017.

Ish loved College Crew, both the skills he learned and the constant support he felt from the Alumni Manager and his peers, saying “Julia really pushed me and I am grateful for that”.

After his freshman year, he felt confident that he could thrive at school without College Crew. To help maintain a robust support system, Julia set Ish up with a personal mentor, Anwar Abdul-Wahab, a Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Nielsen. Anwar first got involved with NYC Outward Bound Schools as a member of our junior board, the New Leaders, and was excited to more deeply engage with students: “I am where I am because of support systems like Outward Bound. I became a New Leader because I wanted to pay it forward and invest in our students and ultimately our community”

Ish and Anwar clicked right away. Immediately, Ish knew he had someone he could turn to for advice. For his part, Anwar kept Ish accountable, helping him with time management, and advising him on how to produce high-quality work.

As the end of the two-year City Tech program approached, Ish decided to pursue a four-year degree in marketing at Baruch. The application process was arduous, so Anwar and Ish arranged weekly check-ins for Ish to ask questions and for Anwar to provide support and encouragement to keep Ish on track.

After months of hard work — and constant urging and support from Anwar — Ish was devastated to learn that his application to Baruch had been denied. He was ready to give up.

Anwar, right, worked with Ish all year long.

But Anwar wasn’t having it. He knew that Ish deserved to be admitted, and was convinced that something else was going on. “I had a similar disappointment once, and I just channeled what my mentors told at the time, ‘keep pushing and don’t give up’. Plain and simple.”

With Anwar’s encouragement, Ish called Baruch’s office of admissions to inquire about his application status. And sure enough, Ish was completely qualified — there had been a clerical error in the office that led to an erroneous denial of his application. If Ish hadn’t called though, the admissions administrators would never have looked into the issue, and Ish’s application would not have earned a second look. Because of his persistence, Ish was going to Baruch.

Ish is ecstatic! All of his hard work has paid off, and he’s headed to his first choice school. Ish reflects, “I had lost all hope, it feels like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders now”. The first person he wanted to tell was his personal cheerleader, Anwar. “I was delighted! I knew in my heart that he worked his tail off and he deserved it.”

We’re so excited to see what Ish does next — his tenacity and commitment are qualities NYC Outward Bound Schools hopes to instill in all of our students. Ish said that the support he has received through NYC Outward Bound Schools, College Crew, and from Anwar as his mentor has taught him “to think beyond what you imagine is possible and never give up.”

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