Learn more about our alumni speaker for our 2019 Scholar Celebration. Say hello to Naquan, a graduate of Schenectady High School, and an alumnus of Rochester Institute of Technology!
Occupation: Senior Consultant-Capital Markets
Current Location: Jersey City, NJ
College: Rochester Institute of Technology
Graduated: May 2014
What was the most important aspect of Sponsor-A-Scholar for you?
The most important aspect of Sponsor-A-Scholar for me was the fellowship with students, faculty, and staff involved with the program. Networking was key. Looking back on my high school years, I got along with everyone. I didn’t necessarily surround myself with the best people, so at times I was susceptible to partake in some activities with my friends that I know I shouldn’t have. Sponsor-A-Scholar kept me grounded and gave me more constructive and positive things to do with my time. It gave me access to resources such as PSAT and SAT prep classes at Union College which helped me prepare for my exams. It gave me time after school once a week where I knew I could have some fresh pizza and finish my homework. Through Sponsor-A-Scholar, I surrounded myself with like-minded individuals who also wanted to invest in their future through a college education. It gave me extra motivation and a network of close friends who not only pushed themselves to be great, but also held me accountable to their same standards of excellence. We held each other accountable and that’s the greatest thing that I received from Sponsor-A-Scholar.
Do you think your high school self would be surprised or impressed by your current occupation?
My high school self would be proud of my current self, but not necessarily impressed. I had high expectations for myself, even though I did not exactly know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be in the field of technology and somewhere in corporate America. My road to success (which I am still on) has many peaks and valleys but it’s a beautiful process that I have learned to enjoy and appreciate. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to put in more time to learn more about technology, and more specifically programming. Learn a new language! Also, I would tell my younger self to find internships or study abroad opportunities to get exposure to things outside of my normal comfort zone. I would say to apply to those schools that I was scared to get a rejection from. If you never apply, you will never know whether you are even capable of getting in. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Along those lines, you cannot be afraid of rejection. I’ve learned more through failure than I did through things working as planned.
What does Sponsor-A-Scholar mean to you now?
Sponsor-A-Scholar is a program that should be emulated in schools all over the country. One of the major issues plaguing underrepresented groups is the lack of resources. Sponsor-A-Scholar is a resource. It is a program to lessen the financial burden on individuals who wouldn’t necessarily have the access to these resources had they not been in the program. It gives students access to faculty and staff who want to see them excel and progress throughout their high school, college, and professional careers. Sponsor-A-Scholar gives students dedicated counselors and mentors to guide students through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It gives students tools and techniques on how to persevere through hardships and not let your surrounding environment dictate how far you make it in life. Most importantly, it provides students with a champion. Everyone deserves a champion. Someone who truly believes that you are capable of fulfilling your dreams, and who is willing to stand by you even when you may not see it in yourself. To know that there are people out there who may not look like me, but are willing to give support and sponsor young students who they don’t even know, this lets me know that there is still some good in the world. I will forever be grateful to Sponsor-A-Scholar, and I am looking forward to speaking on June 5th.