Last Friday evening our newest class of incoming college freshmen gathered one last time before starting their fall semester. They were eager to learn key information and hear advice on navigating and succeeding in college. Our students shared their hopes, goals, fears, and questions for the road ahead while providing each other with encouragement and affirmation that they are well prepared for the journey.
After the workshop, I could not avoid thinking then how in just a few hours people would be gathering in our nation’s capital to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Charlottesville, Virginia hate rallies that claimed the life of a counter-protestor. At this time last year, two of our own Breakthrough New York college freshmen were arriving on the University of Virginia campus where some of the hate rallies occurred. Thankfully both students are safe and received support from faculty on campus.
A year later, we’re now preparing to send another class of students into new environments where it is possible they may face similar bigotry and fear for their safety.
This is unacceptable.
College, in fact school as a whole, is a time of exploration, critical thinking, self-discovery, and preparation for become a contributing member of society. It is during this time when students develop new ideas and challenge previously held views and beliefs. What took place last year in Charlottesville does not reflect the ideals and values our Breakthrough family lives by. Hate rallies should have no place in our society, let alone transpire in the same environments where our young leaders are developing and growing.
Our hope is that we, as a society, learn from our past mistakes and commit to gaining understanding from our differences while embracing our similarities.
At Breakthrough New York we value the richness of diversity and do not tolerate the hate or injustice embodied by the Charlottesville rally and others like it. We work to create a nurturing environment that cultivates our students’ talents. Together with their families’ support, we strive to create an environment of safety and care for all our students.
As we transition another class of students from middle school to high school, high school to college, and college to career, our vision of an equitable future holds true and propels us forward.