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SSP junior accepted into prestigious scholars program for high-achieving, underrepresented students

Jenaye Vergin Thursday, June 6, 2019 —  As many South St. Paul Public Schools (SSPPS) students prepare for a summer away from school, one SSP junior is preparing for an intensive six-week, college-preparatory summer academy at Amherst College in Boston as she plans for her future. This spring, Jenaye Vergin learned that she was one of a select group of students from across the nation accepted into the prestigious SCS Noonan Scholars Program. The mission of SCS Noonan Scholars is to help high-achieving, low-income, underrepresented students get into and graduate from top colleges equipped to achieve their full career potential.

“This is an amazing opportunity for a student like me,” Vergin said. “I want to go to the best colleges, ivy-league if possible, but as a low income and minority student, it seems nearly impossible. But looking at the benefits of the program and how it provides me the personal assistance, learning and access, I knew that this program would be the key to my dreams.”

According to its website, the SCS Noonan Scholars Program believes that “there should be more high-achieving, underrepresented students graduating from top colleges equipped to achieve their full potential in their chosen career.” Many of the country’s highest achieving low-income students of color struggle as they transition from high school to college, and many are often first-generation students who have overcome significant challenges. “These scholars are in the best position to have meaningful careers as leaders in the most prominent business and civic institutions across the country.”

Vergin believes that she was selected for the program not only because of her commitment to academics — she takes a full IB course load while also earning her associate's degree via online college classes —  but also because of her investment and engagement in the community. Among her many extra-curricular activities, Vergin is a leader of SSP Secondary’s Black Pride Organization (BPO), the founder of the Sexuality & Gender Alliance (SAGA), and attends Comunidad de Latinos Unidos (CDLU) and Women's Society meetings when she can. She also serves on the Youth Executive Board for Equity Alliance, is involved in the college preparatory program Upward Bound, and numerous other groups.

“All of this I do to contribute to my community and create more opportunities for underrepresented students, along with educating and making our community a more inclusive place for people to come to; something I hope to improve upon with this program,” said Vergin. “By preparing myself for higher education with this program and learning from other minorities across the U.S., I hope to use this new knowledge to help me be a better leader here in South Saint Paul.”

The SCS Noonan Scholar program stays with students for six years, starting in the spring of their junior year, throughout college, and up until the student secures a professional career. It provides each scholar with personal guidance and opportunities to help them select the best fit and get into high-tier universities, assistance with financial planning, and preparing for life after college. Vergin plans to study political science and economics and further her passion for advocacy and leadership.

“I am extremely excited to branch out beyond Minnesota and take steps toward my future and success,” Vergin said. “I hope my experience inspires my other peers who struggle to strive for something bigger. All it takes is an enormous amount of hard work.”