When METCO alumni Gloria Harrison and Carrie Clifford started their podcast, “Hard Candy and Fruit Snacks,” last fall in an attempt to spark dialogue about racism, busing, and the inequality gap that exists between Black city and white rural students, they knew early on that they wanted to use the new platform to support current METCO and Boston Public School kids who are following in their footsteps.
Over the course of several months, they used the podcast to raise more than $60,000 for the scholarship fund through a crowdsourced campaign.
Earlier this month, the pair selected four students — two in METCO’s Wayland program and two from BPS — as recipients of Social Justice Scholarships totalling $10,000 each. Seventeen runners-up also received scholarships of $2,000 and $1,000.
The two BPS graduating seniors selected as winners are Savannah Middleton and Mich Kurt Magny, both 18, and both from Dorchester.
Middleton, a recent grad of Jeremiah E. Burke High School who will be attending Bentley University in the fall, said she was confident in responding to the scholarship essay prompt, which asked applicants to write either about how racism has affected them or about a small change they would make if they could.
“I wrote about spreading awareness on racism and oppression because there are so many people that are not aware of the oppression that goes on,” said Middleton, adding that interacting with family members who weren’t aware of the racism that people of color face “opened her eyes.
“I was very confident in what I said. I was passionate about it, so it was easier for me to write well. Writing about that and being able to share it did mean a lot to me.
She said the $10,000 scholarship will mean she will be able to work fewer hours at her college job this fall, while also giving her a way to invest and save for her plans to launch a small business or a nonprofit.
Magny, a new alumna of the John D. O’Bryant school who will be at Simmons University in the fall, told the Reporter that she was overcome with emotion when she received the news she had won the scholarship.
“I just started crying, I was really grateful,” she said. “I’m happy we have people who care about the community, and who care about me. I was raised in a low-income family, and I’m planning to pursue a biology pre-med degree...Knowing I would have this type of debt, I didn’t know what to do. Receiving this scholarship actually changed my life.”
At the O’Bryant, Magny was vice president of the Sankofa Club, where kids would come together to talk about what’s going on in the Black community and discuss topics like mental health. In her essay response, she wrote about creating a similar type of club in college, which she would call “Belle Noir Equity,” a name inspired by “being Haitian and the beauty of being Black.”
Magny intends to become a surgical dermatologist.
Both Magny and Middleton benefitted from 826 Boston, a nonprofit youth creative writing organization active in BPS schools that offers tutoring and extra writing help for students.
“Going there made me a better writer. They would always be there to help me,” said Magny.
The two Wayland METCO students selected as scholarship recipients are Cassandra Cardoso, 18, of Jamaica Plain and Raseed Parham, 18, of Roxbury.
Cardoso, who will attend Wheaton College in the fall, said she was “very surprised to be chosen, but also very grateful. When I got the scholarship, I was in complete shock. It took me a minute to register, everyone was clapping and looking at me. That was crazy, but a good crazy. It was a very happy moment.”
Cardoso said she is considering studying sociology in college. She credited the METCO program with exposing her to new lifestyles and ways of thinking.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity I was given to be in this program because it’s opened my eyes to so many different cultures and experiences. I couldn’t imagine how my life would be if I still attended my previous school. I would obviously not have the scholarship, but I would also not be the same person.”