Name: Melissa Ashton
Year joined program/which grade were you in? 1996 / 10th grade
What did you think about “I Have A Dream” – New York when you were in school? I was excited to join because it was a program that was geared at preparing me for college.
What High School did you attend, and what year did you graduate? George Westinghouse Vocational and Technical High School, I graduated in 1999.
Did you go to college/secondary school? If so, where and what did you study? I graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College, my major was International Business and my minor was Political Science.
What are you doing now? I am employed by New York City Department of Social Services, Human Resources Administration and I am a supervisor with the division of Fair Hearing.
How would you explain the “I Have A Dream” program to someone who had never heard of it? IHDF-NY was an after school college prep [and] mentoring program that offered tutoring services. IHDF-NY also gave us an opportunity to obtain summer and winter jobs with prestigious companies. This taught us the value of employment and taking pride in our careers. In addition to mentoring, tutoring and job development the IHAD program took us on various trips such as skiing and basketball games, some of us even had the once in a life time opportunity of going to Africa. This program kept us focused and motivated because we were surrounded by positive people who only wanted the best for us.
How did being a Dreamer affect you? It affected me in more ways than one. I started in the 10th grade so at that time I was more concerned about hanging out with my friends and having a social life, but joining the program reshaped my thought process and I realized that my education was what was most important. The program gave me a better sense of who I was and taught me that being persistent and dedicated was the key to turning my dream into a reality.
What were some of your favorite memories about being a Dreamer? I remember Mr. Ronald Jones helping me with my math homework assignments, our weekly Tuesday Dreamer meetings, traveling to Africa and Costa Rica and our annual Christmas parties at Tudor Investments when it was located in Manhattan.
Would you be where you are today without “I Have A Dream” – New York? Yes, I would say so because my mother was a serious lady who constantly stayed on top of things and she pushed me really hard, but I must say IHDF-NY assisted her along the way. It reminds me of the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.”
What does your family think of “I Have A Dream” – New York? My family believes that there was no other program like the I Have A Dream program and we will forever be grateful.
If you are a Dreamer Alum who would like to share your story for the blog, please contact Thierry Cazeau at firstname.lastname@example.org .