The MGH Youth Scholars Class of 2018 celebrated an impressive feat during their June 27 graduation ceremony – every one of the 28 graduates will attend college next year, making them the third class out of seven to attain such an accomplishment. This year’s class also celebrated another notable achievement – the Revere High School valedictorian and salutatorian are 2018 Youth Scholars.

“We are all resilient, that is something I have learned in the Youth Scholars Program,” said Francesa Louis-Jean, a 2018 MGH Youth Scholar and student speaker during the ceremony. “MGH has shaped my life in a way that I didn’t think was possible at the beginning of this journey. I have no doubt the class of 2018 will stand the test of time.”

The MGH Youth Scholars Program – run by the Center for Community Health Improvement – offers a variety of programs to underrepresented high school students from Boston, Revere and Chelsea interested in STEM subjects. The four-year program includes intensive college preparation and exploration, mentoring, weekly science, engineering, technology and math classes, in addition to internship and job shadow opportunities. Participants can continue to receive support from the MGH through the Youth Scholars Alumni Program, which provides paid internship opportunities and hands-on experience in fields related to the students’ courses of study.

“Hold on to this moment. Think about it, understand what it means and cherish it,” said Diane B. Patrick, Esq., MGH trustee, senior counsel at Ropes & Gray, and former first lady of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony. “A huge door to the world of science and technology was opened for you here. And why? Because there were lots of people who saw something in you that was promising. Something perhaps that you didn’t see in yourselves.”

Patrick shared her history of growing up in Brooklyn, New York, graduating high school and college – without the plethora of resources available today – and becoming a teacher in the New York City Public School System. After five years, Patrick was laid off, and, she said when analyzing her future, she decided on a whim to attend law school, which “was a real shock to my system.” Despite some difficulties along the way, Patrick has had a successful law career.

“I want you to know that I was once in the place where I imagine many of you were, with no idea what was ahead of you and a bit afraid of what you would face,” Patrick said. “Do not be afraid. Explore what is behind the other doors now open to you, don’t pass them by. The options for your future are more numerous than you might ever imagine. Grab them. Take charge. Turn what might be unimaginable to you today into something that those coming behind you see as right within their grasps.”

This article was published in the 07/13/18 Hotline issue.