Diaz’s Achievement Pact

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announces the Bronx Achievement Pact, a college readiness program that combines the resources of Mercy College and Truman High School in Co-Op City.
Pictured (l-r) is Mercy College School of Education dean Alfred Posamentier, Mercy College president Dr. Kimberly Cline, event moderator Edie Magnu, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

A higher learning degree before even entering college? What was once a dream is now a reality at Truman High School.

On Tuesday, April 4, borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. announced the creation of the Bronx Achievement Pact, an education initiative set to take effect in September 2012. Inside the school’s planeterium, Diaz Jr. urged students to shoot for the stars.

“This program is to let you know that you are not alone,” said Diaz Jr. “Take advantage of it.”

The pilot program will merge the resources of Truman High School and Mercy College with the promise that students ambitious in getting a college degree early can earn college credit while still in high school.

The cornerstore of the Bronx Achievement Pact is the chance at earning 30 college credits during the regular high school day. Unlike Advanced Placement classes, where a student needs a high GPA to enroll in a class that costs money, the college-level courses are free and open to all 1800 students at Truman High. They can earn another 30 credits if they handle the extra workload during summers, weekends and breaks, giving students the chance to earn an Associate’s degree that covers core classes.

“Think about what that does,” said Dr. Kimberly Cline, president of Mercy College. “You can finish a three-year degree in two years, you can get your masters, or you can start working.”

Students were enticed by the offer.

“You can save a lot of money,” said Kayla Diaz, a junior who plans to take advantage of the program. “You’ll be paying two years of college instead of four.”

The Bronx Achievement Pact will also serve as a resource center for parents befuddled by the college application process, where most financial aid forms “can kill you,” according to Truman High School principal Dr. Sana Nasser.

The genesis behind the program began with a meeting between Dr. Cline and principal Nasser, who participated in October’s Education Summit hosted by Borough President Diaz Jr. The two compared notes on what they felt were education goals worth pursuing. On the top of their lists was the goal of raising college enrollment rates for Truman students, which stand at 36%, according to the latest figures by the New York City Department of Education.

The Bronx Achievement Pact will expand to another Bronx school with a college enrollment rate below 70%, and take off to other schools if the program works.

To reach reporter David Cruz, please call (718) 742-3383 or email dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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