Chancellor Fariña Celebrates the 2016 Remarkable Graduates

  • Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 Updated: Fri Apr 20, 2018

138 Graduates and Families Honored at Citi Field

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and the New York Mets will host a reception this evening honoring 138 remarkable high school graduates with the Remarkable Achievement Recognition of Excellence Award. Now in its eleventh year, the Remarkable Achievement Awards recognize students who have triumphed over significant hurdles to succeed in their academic and extracurricular pursuits.

This year’s award recipients attended high schools in all five boroughs –37 in the Bronx, 32 in Brooklyn, 34 in Manhattan, 30 in Queens, and 5 on Staten Island – and will be going on to postsecondary education.

“These students are a truly remarkable group,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “It’s a privilege to join their families today in celebrating their courage and commitment to learning. They represent the strengths of New York City – our wonderful diversity, perseverance, and potential.” 

“Citi Field and the Mets are excited to once again host the Remarkable Achievement Awards,” said Jeff Wilpon, New York Mets Chief Operating Officer. “These students’ resilience, courage, and hard work in the face of adversity represent the best of New York and we are proud to showcase these inspiring New York City public school students.”

Every year, the Chancellor recognizes students who have demonstrated considerable achievement, earned their diplomas, and are going on to college in spite of serious personal challenges. To identify the recipients, teachers, principals, and counselors are asked to nominate one student from their school.

A selection of the recognized students’ stories is below:

Yisselania De Los Santos Thrived As An English Language Learner and Young Mother

Yisselania De Los Santos moved to the United States in middle school, rejoining her parents after living away from them for many years and struggling to learn English as a second language. At the Manhattan Academy for Arts and Language, as she learned English and adapted to life in New York City, she balanced her schoolwork with a new responsibility: motherhood.

Though it hasn’t been easy, Yisselania has thrived both in and out of school – she is graduating with high grades, and plans to attend college this fall and serve her community by pursuing a career in nursing.

“I am extremely proud of Yisselania,” said Katherine Rojas, Yisselania’s guidance counselor. “In the face of many obstacles, her motivation and dreams of a better life never wavered. She has a bright future ahead of her.”

Sara Damour Battled Cancer and Is Moving on to College

During part of her freshman and sophomore years, as most of her peers were becoming acclimated to high school, Sara Damour received home instruction while she battled cancer. Throughout this difficult period, Sara was able to maintain her positive attitude and excel in her studies.

“Sara’s perseverance and commitment to her academics are truly remarkable, and she’s so deserving of this recognition. She represents the best of our school, and I know she will make us proud as she goes off to college and careers,” said Michael Walker, principal of the Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts in Brooklyn.

Having beaten back her illness, Sara returned to in-school instruction as a sophomore and didn’t look back. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class, and will attend the College of Staten Island this fall.

A Former English Language Learner Who Became a Mentor and Role Model for Her Classmates

Lisbeth Recio moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic in middle school; she started high school as an English Language Learner who was too timid to speak in class, but grew to become one of the top scholars in her class. As Lisbeth excelled academically, she didn’t forget her past challenges, mentoring ELL and immigrant students so they could strengthen their own English language skills and supporting them to have more positive high school experiences.

This fall, Lisbeth will enroll in college to study criminal justice.

“Lisbeth is an impressive student who’s worked tirelessly to overcome every challenge she’s faced, and just as important, she is a kind and compassionate young woman who is committed to serving those around her. We were overjoyed to have Lisbeth at the Business of Sports School, and we know that she will be an asset to any community she’s a part of going forward,” said Joshua Solomon, principal of the Business of Sports School in Manhattan.

Sally Olivo Doesn’t Let a Disability Hold Her Back

Sally Olivo was born with a spinal disorder and uses a wheelchair. She was an exemplary student at Information Technology High School in Queens who is deeply respected by her peers and teachers and hasn’t let her physical disability hold her back. Sally became more confident and engaged in her school community over the course of high school and, in her senior year, was an active member of the school’s chapter of Best Buddies, an international organization that fosters opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Though she knows the commute will be challenging, Sally plans to enroll at John Jay College of Criminal Justice this fall and has a plan for success in college and beyond.

“Sally is a resilient, fearless, and dedicated young woman,” said Laura Soriano, her guidance counselor. “It has been a pleasure to watch her grow academically and socially throughout high school, and I am confident that she is going to make our City a better place – just as she did at Information Tech.”

Back to Top