Aissatou Goes to High School

 —WE DID IT!!!!!!

Allison and Aissatou at her graduation from middle school

Allison and Aissatou at her graduation from middle school


Over the past three years I (Allison) have served as a mentor to Aissatou Badji, a Bronx middle-schooler. We could not be more dissimilar (For those who don't know me, I am a novelist and Creative Writing Professor at Lehman College in the Bronx.) Her parents are immigrants from Senegal, practicing, liberal Muslims. When I met her, she was 12 years old. She was born and has lived her whole life in the Bronx. But after spending time together, those differences fell away, as they do in the best friendships. 

The mentoring program ended after one school year, but without discussing it, we knew we would continue to spend time together. I realized that I consider her a good friend. 

She is an intellectually curious, bright, and ambitious young woman, whose local school options are sadly deficient. She has found her intellectual and social match at a renowned Catholic school in the Bronx. Were it feasible, I would pay her tuition for all four years at Spellman (each year is $9,350, plus fees, so $10,000 per year). But in the absence of that ability, I am asking you, my friends, to help her out. This is a specific, local way for you to make a difference in a deserving child’s life. Thank you for your generosity. 

Aissatou recently completed her first year at Cardinal Spellman. To say it was a success is an understatement. Here she is in her own words: 

Hi everyone!!!
Well, I made it! I completed my first year of highschool. It was amazing. I am now a sophomore. As crazy as it sounds, I am excited to go back to school. 

The environment of Spellman makes you want to be the best you that you can possibly be. Whether it's the teachers, the guidance counselors, your friends, or administration, someone wants you to succeed and do well. Spellman made me realize just how important hard work and determination is and how far it can get you. 

I was able to make 1st Honors every single quarter! 1st Honors is for students who attained a GPA of 90 or above. Next year, I hope to make the Principal's list which is for students who reach a GPA of 95 or above. From my freshman year, I know that next year, I won't get comfortable, but instead I will hit the ground running. 

In regards to extracurricular activities, I did try out for Softball but unfortunately did not make the team. I was disappointed, but Allison and my parents told me not to give up, and reminded me that there were so many sports that I could try out for. I decided that I would try out for Cheerleading. I am currently attending Cheer camp at school, and I can tell that I enjoy it very much. I just found out I made the team!

I hope to return to Spellman in the Fall. Words cannot describe how incredibly thankful I am for the opportunity you guys bestowed upon me. Thank you so much!

Aissatou Badji

Allison again: I'm so proud of how well Aissatou's done! What she hasn't mentioned in the letter is how hard she's worked--going to early study sessions, volunteering for the library association. I'm also so happy she's found her groove socially; finally she has intellectual peers she can call friends! We've continued to see each other regularly, and I recently went with her and her two siblings to Skyzone, a trampoline park, to reward her for her hard work.

Aissatou has been nominated for two prestigious scholarships. One is through Catholic Charities which matches her with a patron, and the other is through her school's alumni endowment. Seven young adults were chosen to submit essays for consideration. This scholarship pays for tuition for all remaining years of high school, which means you'd be off the hook. We won't find out the results until mid-September, after tuition is already due.

We are asking today for your help again so that Aissatou can continue her education. I've moved this off the GoFundMe platform, as they take a percentage of funds. Instead, if you're kind enough to donate, please paypal or Venmo or Chase QuickPay me. Or go ahead and use the GoFundMe platform. If by some miracle one of the scholarships comes through I'll be sure to apply the money to subsequent years or refund it.  Know that you've really helped someone and her family achieve dreams that would not have been possible without your generosity. 
I can't thank you enough for your generosity. If you could possibly give what you gave last year (if possible) or even add a bit more (say, 10%?) I would be extremely grateful. I'll keep you updated on our progress.



Gofundme: or; telephone 646.245.5537

As of 9/14 64 people have contributed! Thank you!!!

First day of school Fall 2017

First day of school Fall 2017