SOMERSET, NJ - The Warrior For Life Scholarship Foundation partnered with the Franklin Youth Initiative for its 1st Graduation Conference this Sunday at the Franklin Township Community/Senior Center.
During the conference attendees had the opportunity to get information on college funding, pre-college programming, post high school planning, and career readiness during a series of workshops.
Most of the interactive workshops were led by past WFLSF scholarship winners and included topics such as, what to expect during your first year of college, SAT/ACT test preparation, the importance of community service and more.
Bradley Wood and Hugo Carvajal from the College Funding Coach® hosted a workshop titled “Little-Known Secrets of Paying for College.” Their workshop taught families how to qualify for financial aid and how to leverage assets to make their money work more efficiently.
Organizers hope to make the event bigger next year, and will use feedback from this year's conference towards future events.
"We wanted to use this year to gauge what will be needed for the future," WFLSF Co-founder, Daryn Plummer said. "We wanted to get the foundation of a great event that we can build on for next year. We got a lot of feedback from attendees to help figure out what we need to do, to adjust the program. We are looking forward to growing the event next year."
Plummer said he hopes to have some of the conferences outdoors next year with a DJ, Food Trucks, and other features to draw more students.
One of the workshops titled "What I wish I knew before college" was led by Franklin High School Alumni Sophia Felix and Heather Attanasio.
"I came here to talk to future college students about their first year and how college really is because, it is better to hear from a student," Felix said... "It is really important to maintain a social life as well as an academic life because you need people to fall back on and share your struggles and pain with."
Pooja Patel an FHS class of 2014 graduate was one of the members who made up the diverse panel of active community members. Patel interned with the Department of Homeland Security while she studied at Kean University. She graduated in three years and works for the university in the public safety division. Patel is also a soldier for the United States Army, National Guard as a Human Resource Specialist.
Patel said she felt compelled to join the panel because she felt the need to give back to FHS students.
"I want to give back to the community, the same guidance and mentorship that I was given when I was in need," Patel said. "I know there are other students that need that positive word. One word or one person can help make a difference, and that is the goal here. The people who run this organization are the ones who helped me get into college. They made sure I knew college was a possibility when I thought it wasn't, and I want to give back."
FHS junior standout, Jerijah McCray moderated the panel discussions.
"I love this organization because it gives back to its own," McCray said. "The foundation serves the community of Franklin which is something we haven't had in a long time."
The WFLSF will have a clothing drive in August and plan on attending Week of the People and the Franklin Day Festival later this year. Its gala will be held in November.
Myra Mitchell, Tiffany Nicole, Michelle Lynch and Monique Robinson made up the rest of the panel and their bios can be found below:
Myra Mitchell: retired from the Franklin Township after thirty years of service. She taught at Franklin High School and coached many different sports there for twenty-seven years. Ms. “Mitch” as she is fondly known as, attended Hampton Institute where she received her BS degree in Health/Physical Education. She received both of her Masters Degrees from Springfield College in Springfield Massachusetts. Ms. Mitchell states, “I believe that educating children results in empowering them to achieve their goals. I realized early in my career that teaching affords me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in and out of the classroom. I truly believe that children are our most vital resource. We must cultivate and train them not only to survive, but also to strive to succeed in life”.
Tiffany Nicole: is a producer, on-air host, photographer and all around creative. At the young age of 27 she’s worked at MTV, NFL Films, ESPN, and more. When she’s not producing content for BET.com or behind the camera lens, she’s working as an on-air personality covering really fun gigs that range anywhere from the Met Gala to the Grammy Awards!
Michelle Lynch: a graduate of Franklin High School (class of 1997) as well as graduate of University of Phoenix (class of 2006) is a Recipient of the Malaysia Artis Award (2016), a conversationalist, motivational speaker, and Author of “A Girl you Know” (2014) and “All Churched Out” (2018). She lives in Somerset, New Jersey with her Beautiful Family, which is her motivation behind all she does. She continues to discuss with multiple youth groups and other religious organizations about the kind of impact and effect a spiritually divided home has on every member of the family. In her spare time, Michelle is continuing her writing journey with “A Girl You Know” series, completing her Masters of Education Degree with Strayer University, as well as support her family in activities they love most. If you would like to share your thoughts with Michelle, visit her on Instagram @The_real_michelle_lynch www.facebook.com/AGirlYouKnowSeries or email her AGirlYouKnowSeries@gmail.com
Monique Robinson: Monique Robinson is a motivated and hard-working meteorologist excited to engage in the world of weather beyond the classroom. Monique is an alumna Franklin High School (class of 2013) and of the University of Maryland, College Park where she received her B.S. in Atmospheric & Oceanic Science and B.A. in Broadcast Journalism — the first student to dual degree in these areas of studies at the university. Monique has hands-on experience in the field of broadcast meteorology serving in the capacity of weather forecasting as the U-Md. Weather Talks Founder and Senior Editor, WMUC Radio 88.1 FM Meteorologist and StormTeam4 Intern at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Monique has applied her understanding of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science as a Teaching Assistant for multiple courses. Outside of the classroom, Monique has supported her peers as a Resident Assistant for 2 years and worked at WMAL 105.9 FM/AM 630 as a News Assistant writing and reporting for daily radio broadcasts and digital news production. Monique is recipient of the university’s 2018 Rick Jordan Scholarship for her academic, research and extra curricular work.