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Newark Youth Leadership Project Interns Heading to Top Colleges, Armed Forces

NYLP Program Coordinator Emmanuela Mujica and intern Aniyyah Maney in the greenhouse at Greater Newark Conservancy.
NYLP Program Coordinator Emmanuela Mujica and intern Aniyyah Maney in the greenhouse at Greater Newark Conservancy.

When it comes to Roberta Ezike of Newark, Northwestern and Cornell’s loss is Wellesley’s gain. The same can be said for all of the institutions of higher learning and opportunity who were on the lists of hopeful Newark High School interns participating in Greater Newark Conservancy’s Newark Youth Leadership Project (NYLP).

In addition to Ezike’s impressive list of school acceptances, other NYLP interns waiting anxiously for word along with other high school seniors statewide got the news they hoped for. Danny Rodriguez was accepted at Montclair State University. Brandon Johnson is going to Bloomfield College. Nasir Preston is joining the Air Force. Aniyyah Maney will attend The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).

Nearly 800 Newark high school students have participated in the NYLP program since its inception 15 years ago. Program graduates have gone on to excel in college and in the business world. Program Coordinator Emmanuela Mujica believes this year’s interns will find similar success.

"The Newark Youth Leadership Project aims to guide high school interns toward college and later into meaningful careers,” Mujica noted. Greater Newark Conservancy serves as a haven for these students, many of whom don't receive support in their schools or homes to pursue academic careers. As the program coordinator, I work with interns one-on-one to encourage character strengths, to keep up their grades, and to apply for scholarships. We've been providing free SAT prep sessions for the sophomores and juniors. I write a lot of recommendation letters and give hefty pep talks and it all pays off when these students achieve what they've set out to do." 

A year-round program, NYLP helps Newark high school students get a head start on their future through job training experience, leadership development, exposure to different career options in environmental and horticultural fields and opportunities for pursuing a college education. Student participants are major contributors working at the Conservancy’s urban farms and farm stands, which provide unique experiences and challenges for inner-city youth.

A senior at University High School, Aniyyah Maney applied to 15 different colleges and universities, including 11 in New Jersey. She chose TCNJ because it “felt like home” when she visited the Ewing campus. She found the environment welcoming, was impressed by the dorms, the library and the gym, and looks forward to studying business management and finance. She also credits involvement in the NYLP program for helping overcome her shyness and providing the confidence to succeed. Working at the farm stands and interacting with people from her community teaching awareness of the importance of good nutrition was her favorite part of the experience.

“I really appreciated the support and encouragement from the other interns and the Conservancy staff who helped set the bar high,” added Maney. “Their feedback and input has been helpful and positive throughout the application process.”

For those interested in supporting the Newark Youth Leadership Project, the Conservancy will host its City Bloom Spring Gala benefiting NYLP on May 15th at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside.

“This program creates opportunities for Newark high school students to prepare for a brighter future and every gala ticket sold means more can be a part of it,” noted the Conservancy’s Executive Director, Robin Dougherty.  “In turn, NYLP participants play an integral role in our expanding urban farming and tree farming initiatives that are producing thousands of pounds of healthy and nutritious produce and growing trees that will enhance Newark’s tree canopy and contribute to a greener and healthier environment.”

Founded in 1987, Greater Newark Conservancy’s mission is to promote environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities through environmental education, community gardening, beautification of neighborhoods, job training and environmental justice. 

For more information, including volunteer opportunities or to make a donation to support NYLP and other programs and services provided by Greater Newark Conservancy, visit CityBloom.org. You can also follow news from the Conservancy through social media at Facebook.com/GreaterNewarkConservancy and Twitter at @Citybloom87.

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