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High school students from the inner city often have to navigate a minefield of obstacles and distractions to get to college. But once they get on campus, too many find that their college careers can be easily derailed, sometimes as a result of small missteps that can cascade into something far more serious. Without strong support systems in place to help these students recover, many who leave the college path find it extremely difficult to get back on it.
The Alray Taylor Second Chance scholarship is designed for precisely that kind of student: A promising individual from Boston who had the smarts and drive to overcome hurdles and get to college but who needs some crucial assistance in finding a way back there.
The Second Chance referred to in the name of the fund encompasses more than just financial assistance. Each scholarship recipient is teamed with a dedicated mentor to offer guidance and support, with the goal of helping the student avoid the missteps of the past and expand his/her horizons. The recipients will also become part of a Second Chance community, helping to mentor those who follow.
Alray Scholars is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that fundraises to provide scholarships to Boston public high school graduates who have left college, but who are committed to returning to school to obtain their college degree. Alray Scholars also matches scholarship recipients with mentors who meet regularly with the students to guide, advise and encourage them.
The fund is designed to help meet a need highlighted in the book THE ASSIST: Hoops, Hope, and The Game of Their Lives (www.theassist.net) by Neil Swidey. One of the book’s central themes is that while urban students can often reach great heights, thanks to their own talents and the support of dedicated people around them, they are usually afforded far fewer second chances when things don’t go as planned.
The scholarship is named after Alray Taylor, a warm-hearted former basketball star at Boston’s Charlestown High School and Division I college scholarship athlete whose life was tragically cut short in 2006.
- Jack O'Brien
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