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Welcome New Staff Members!

Here at Practice Makes Perfect we value education more than anything. As we continue to expand our team to be able to serve more students across New York, we wanted to give everyone the chance to take a more personal look into backgrounds of PMP’s employees, and how their educational journey has led them to where they are now.

With that said, we are happy to present the education stories of the five most recent additions to the team: (inline with photo - left to right), Joseph Ward, Meiling Jabbaar, Devan Tierney, Peter Daskalov, and Eliana Rodriguez:

 

Meet Eliana! Position: Direct Support to the CEO Alma Mater: Cornell University, College of Architecture

Education is important because it provides us with the opportunity to accomplish our dreams or to land on our destined path. In reality, education allows us to form knowledge from experiences and information. It exposes us to our histories and allows us to learn from past mistakes, thus, making every journey a lesson. Education exposes us to the world and helps us learn of tolerance, social justice, and human rights among other things. Having a proper and honest education allows us to form our own opinions that stem from our ethics and values, also formed through education.

Education has always been important to me because my mother instilled its importance in me. Ever since I was a toddler, she would read to me in Spanish; she always helped with my homework when she could; and she never missed a parent-teacher conference. However, despite the fact that my mother was the driving force behind the type of public school education I received, I also had an affinity and a liking to school and learning. To me, education was the only way “out” of my neighborhood and out of our socio-economic status—I wanted to be able to provide for my mother one day and live comfortably. Additionally, education gave me a purpose and allowed me to feel as if my dreams were achievable and attainable. As a first generation college student who attended public school in Ozone Park, Queens, I now understand the effects and the existing education inequity that prepared me enough for college but not enough for an ivy league or a large private university. All in all, I wouldn’t be who I am today without education and all of the experiences I have undergone—I love the kind of person that I am and I know that through education I can and will continue to better myself internally and externally.

 

Meet Joe! Position: Operations Coordinator Alma Mater: Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences

I grew up with no interest in school whatsoever.  I wasn’t a terrible student, but neither of my parents went to college and my mother was a single parent with non-traditional hours, so she didn’t have the time to convey how important school was – if she even really knew.  I played sports, joined clubs, and worked year-round to pay for my expenses.  My spare time was for friends, not homework.

Thankfully though, all my friends were applying to college and I was still around the top 11-15% of my class. 15 applications, 8 rejections, and 2 local acceptances later, Cornell University decided they liked my extra-curriculars enough to give me a shot.  I was more excited and optimistic than at any point in my life.  My choices went from community college, the military, or staying at the supermarket to almost literally anything.  But I also didn’t realize how unprepared I was for Cornell.

I arrived in Ithaca with no AP credits, no calculus, and not much else.  One of my roommates came in with a full year’s worth of credits, another went to Bill Gates’s high school.  Everyone I met seemed impressive, and if that wasn’t enough, my first lecture ever took an iClicker poll on our household incomes.  I was the only person in a 300 person class to select “Under $50,000.”  I doubt I was the only one in that bracket, but I was still rattled.  

I didn’t know going in that I was behind, and just a few months into my attendance I was on the verge of dropping out.  I struggled to hit the threshold to remain academically eligible for sports and only attended my economics class again to take the exams.  I never once reached out to Cornell faculty.  

At the end of my freshman year though, the value of a Cornell degree was abundantly apparent.  I returned home and spoke with a panel to rising juniors and seniors about the importance of an education and began to turn things around.  I graduated on time and, despite my relatively low GPA, landed a great job because of the name on my degree.

I’m still not convinced of the value of a system that focuses so much on testing that textbook knowledge is prioritized above critical thinking, but I am fully aware of the advantages a “good education” creates for a person, and it’s important to me that low-income students gain equal access to these opportunities. Every kid should experience the feeling I had and know, with acceptance in hand, that the world is theirs.  

Meet Meiling! Position: Program and Recruitment Administrator Alma Mater: Brown University

Growing up in Harlem, New York I witnessed first-hand the impact and implications that inequalities in our society, namely racial inequality, class inequality, and education inequality, have on the lives of individuals. As I traveled across different neighborhoods in New York City, I noticed strikingly apparent disparities between neighborhoods and this bothered me. I would question why in some neighborhoods there was more trash in the streets, why the buildings were more elegant in some areas, and why schools looked significantly nicer in specific neighborhoods. The more I observed how these inequalities manifested across NYC, the more I realized that they are strongly interrelated issues and was moved to learn how I can help solve these issues that so deeply affected my community.

I am passionate about combatting education inequality in particular because education has had a huge impact on my life.  My parents always stressed the importance of receiving a great education and the opportunity that it can afford you, and as a young girl I naturally cultivated a love for learning and excelled in school.  I was fortunate to attend a private high school and went on to attend Brown University. I soon became the first person in my family to graduate from a 4 year university, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Yet, throughout high school and college, I would return to my community and see the lack of opportunity and access to quality education that existed there. This angered me, but simultaneously sparked my passion for education equality because I firmly believe that every child has the right to a quality education. Not only do their futures depend on it, but our futures depend on it, and our society’s future depends on it because the students we educate today are our future generation.

 

Meet Devan! Position: Communications Intern Alma Mater: Ramapo College of New Jersey

My education story began on my brother’s first day of kindergarten, he was five and I was three - he was crying to go leave and I was crying to stay. From the moment that I walked into Ms Finks’ class at Midtown Community School I fell in love with school. There was something about the environment and the process of learning that excited me, even at three years old. And as I got older, that passion grew, inside and outside of the classroom. Asking questions, discussing information, and gaining more knowledge became second nature to me, and I loved every second of it - until high school.

While my grades remained average, my eagerness to be the most curious student in the class transformed to the drive to be the funniest or the most popular. I dedicated more of my time to making friends than I did to studying and gaining knowledge, which eventually landed me in a less than perfect situation when applying for college. However, once I found myself sitting in a college classroom taking classes that challenged me again, like statistics and psychology, that eagerness returned - and thankfully it was here to stay. College excited me, it reminded me how beneficial it was to gain knowledge, to know more information, to learn. Although I am finally done with school and moving on to new and exciting chapters in my life, I will never be done with education. Those few years of high school and the repercussions that followed reminded me how valuable learning is, how even when being the funniest or most popular kid in the class passes - education never leaves you.   

 

Meet Peter! Business Development Intern Alma Mater: NYU Current school: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

To me, having an education means having the ability to reason, to solve problems, and to apply the material learned toward thinking critically about any given situation in life. Merely memorizing facts, or being able to read, but not absorbing the material is completely useless. Education means being able to evolve, and to adapt to an ever changing world. There are so many people, and so many different cultures, and beliefs on this planet that the only way for a person to communicate with those people would be by having an education. Most importantly, a path in life where education is a priority will lead to happiness, success, and stability.

For me education is important because I want to be aware of the world I am living in. I do not want to go day to day being blind and unaware. I want to be a productive member of society, and live life to my fullest potential. I want to change this world for the better, and the only way I can do that is if I am able to think critically about potential solutions to problems that concern not only myself, but those around me as well. My ultimate goal in life is to be happy, and I think the biggest reason why education is important to me is that I'll be able to give my family the life that they've never had, but always deserved.