Youth Testimonials

My name is Ciara Studstill, a senior at Thomas J. Corcoran High School, located in Syracuse, New York. The past five years that I spent in Junior Frontiers have gone by quickly, almost too quickly now that my time in the program is coming to an end. Throughout my time with the Junior Frontiers, I have learned many valuable lessons that I will carry with me to college and beyond, I got the chance to be exposed to different cultures, and I’ve made friends and many memories that I know will last a lifetime. Being a member of this program has given me the chance to be able to find my voice and learn to speak up and speak out. The young woman you see standing before you today is definitely not the same girl that started Junior Frontiers five years ago. With the help of the co-directors and parents, I have been shaped and molded into a multitalented, confident and cultured young lady, and I will forever be grateful for that. The Junior Frontiers has many opportunities where students are able to get geared up for college, practice hard work and connect with other students such as the annual Ivy League and HBCU tours, SAT prep classes at Syracuse University, participate in various fundraisers for the program, Saturday Academy and trips to museums and historical sites within the United States. During my third and final year of the HBCU tour, I got the chance to interview with some of the schools at the HBCU fair and the schools we visited. While on the tour, I was accepted into my first choice, Bennett College, and will be attending the school in the fall of 2017. I know that with the guidance, advice, unwavering love and support from both my parents and Junior Frontiers family, I will be able to persevere through the next four years and become the woman that God intends for me to be. Thank you.

DuWayne Engram (Associates in Applied Science in Human Services, MVCC, May 2015; Bachelors in Social Welfare, SUNY Albany, May 2017). I was a member of the Junior Frontier program from 2004-2006. This program held meetings, gave me experiences, taught me different things, and put influential people around me that helped me develop into a man that can achieve his goals and dreams. Some of the experiences that Junior Frontier program provided me with were tours of historically black colleges, a high school cyber security program, fund raising missions, sporting events such as golfing and bowling, and even meeting influential scholars, and celebrities. The Junior Frontier program gave me the opportunity to compete a leadership position such as the Vice President position. As of late, this program has connected me to resources that supported me in returning to college full time , and allowed me to assist the program as an alumnus and further support current students by telling my story.

Katrina Springer - I was a member of the Syracuse Chapter of the Junior Frontiers of the Mohawk Valley throughout high school. As a member, I participated in the Jr. Frontiers Annual HBCU Tour for several years. While on the tour as a senior, Lincoln University awarded me a full Presidential Scholarship.


I spent three years at Lincoln where I majored in Political Science, minored in International Relations, and took advantage of several internationally-focused opportunities. These opportunities included study abroad through Semester at Sea, serving as a student delegate at the U.S.-China Student Summit, studying Arabic at Middlebury Language School, and interning at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. In my senior year at Lincoln, I was selected as one of 30 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellows with the U.S. State Department. Through this fellowship, I have secured internships at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, the United States Senate, and the House of Representatives. I will graduate from Syracuse University with a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a Master of Science in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in May. Following graduation, I will be commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer—also known as an American Diplomat—in the U.S. Department of State.


I consider my time at Lincoln University to be the springboard for recognizing and achieving my career aspiration of representing U.S. foreign policy and interests abroad. Without the Jr. Frontiers and the HBCU Tour, I doubt that I would have attended Lincoln and recognized my full potential. I am forever grateful to the Junior Frontiers of the Mohawk Valley and the chapter directors for the role they have played in my success.

A message from Charlene Renee Murray. "Mr. Rasheed... I just want to thank you for mentoring me as a middle school and high school student. I think about your contribution to my life very often and I just want you to know that it had a major effect on me in every positive aspect. In 3 weeks I will begin my Masters in Public Health degree program at the University of Albany. I was selected for a grad assistantship that comes with a stipend and a tuition award. I'm also receiving GTOP, which is the graduate version of EOP/HEOP. I am so excited for this new journey. Thank you so much for pouring into my life and the lives of others, you are truly a blessing."

My name is Hilda M. Jordan and I am a pre-law student at Harvard University double majoring in Philosophy and African-American Studies. I want to describe just how grateful I am for being a member of the Junior Frontiers for four years.


The Junior Frontiers has given me a number of opportunities and experiences that I would have never dreamed possible. It has always been a lifelong to dream to be a Harvard Student and in many ways without the help of the Junior Frontiers I wouldn’t have gotten there. As a sophomore the Junior Frontiers gave  me opportunities to shadow judges and begin interning with attorneys. My junior year I was accepted to the Harvard Summer School program at the price of 11,000 dollars within the time frame of a week. With the community support, effort, and backing of the Junior Frontiers I was able to achieve my nearly impossible goal in not seven days but four. Then my senior year, the Junior Frontiers took me on an Ivy League tour where I toured, interviewed, and experienced some of the country’s best universities and small liberal arts colleges. Had it not been for the Junior Frontiers, I would have never been able to afford those experiences and be confirmed that Harvard was the place where I rightfully belong.


Currently, I am an alum of the organization and I am so blessed to say I am where I am because of the giants of the Mohawk Valley Junior and Senior Frontiers. I am so grateful to now see my younger brother and cousins going through the program and seeing college not as an impossible feat or far away dream, but a life changing choice. I thank the Junior Frontiers and the Mohawk Valley for the blessing they have been to my family and me!

Daileny Guerrero - Junior Frontiers is just like a family, it disciplines you and most importantly, supports you. When I first joined, I was so nervous to stand up and recount something good that happened to me during the week. However, just that simple act has taught me to always establish my presence in a room and to not let anyone undermine my words. I was taught to always ask questions, never take no for an answer, and to go beyond what is expected out of me. Every HBCU tour, Ivy League tour, SAT class, and community service has encouraged me to grow academically and socially.


I am immensely grateful to the directors and parents who invested so much time in making sure I had no excuse to not do well in school. I now attend Barnard College and am a Gates Millennium Scholar which pays for 10 years of my college education. I have all the resources I need to obtain a bachelor, masters, and PhD and I will be forever thankful to everyone who believed in me.

Delvin Moody - “One of the greatest decisions in life, was to join the Junior Frontiers. The program not only broadened my knowledge on options in the world, but it is the single most important reason why I am at the University of Rochester. The Junior Frontier program gives so many young people an opportunity to better their lives and reach their God given potential. Three years later, I am at the University of Rochester studying Political Science on a Pre-Law track and have a 3.47 GPA. I am making history on campus with innovative programs never done at University of Rochester. I have traveled the Middle East and I am directly involved in Israeli Politics with AIPAC. I am a proud Utican and I proud Alumni of Junior Frontiers.”

Greetings everyone, my name is Samantha Tavarez. I am the co-president of the Utica/Rome chapter of the Junior Frontiers. I am a graduating senior from Thomas R Proctor high school and will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall majoring in Biomedical Sciences.


There are few organizations in which lift up students to obtain a higher education. Therefore, one may question where my motivation and desire derive from? It is the Junior Frontiers? Due to this organization, I have the scope of knowledge and preparation which aid me for college and beyond.


We are a program dedicated to help students, from various ages and grades, surpass the average standards and to ultimately pursue a higher education. To do so the Junior Frontiers gives students countless opportunities to help them get ahead. Some of these include SAT prep, Saturday Academy, tutoring, and college tours. We also participate in many fundraisers and community service events throughout the local area such as Pancake Breakfast and Fish Fry. Our students always feel motivated to contribute to the Junior Frontiers because of what is called the point system. Students get rewarded for doing tasks such as writing essays on the topic assigned, attendance to the meeting, and participation in volunteer work or fundraisers. All the awards being given out today this evening are from our successful and hard working peers.


I have been a member of the Junior Frontiers of the Mohawk Valley since my freshmen year of high school. Not only has the organization influenced me on the importance of college preparation, but also on networking, social skills, and self-acceptance. The directors and chaperones offer an immense amount of guidance through the college process and construction in which I did not obtain before. I realized how I present myself reflects who I am as an individual. With my participation in community service, I am aware it is beneficial to give back to my community and share my success for others to do the same.


To have met such an inspiring group of people who embrace struggles as an embodiment of one’s character admires me. To recognize I am surrounded by people who have similar backgrounds as me, morally demonstrates I am not alone with the barriers I have and continue to face. My parents always visualized me as a person who is not afraid of expressing myself and realizing the amount the strength that I carry to pose decisions. Now they have the chance to see me embark to a new chapter in my life.


I can positively ensure my experiences within the Junior Frontiers, will set an example for students to flourish with prosperity, alongside mentors enriched with inspiration and motivation beside them. The key is to strive, not only survive!

Christine Samuel (Tuskegee University, Junior Psychology Major). The Junior Frontiers of the Mohawk Valley has been a pillar in my life for as long as I can remember. The Junior Frontiers has played a pivotal role in my success throughout grade school, high school, and now at Tuskegee University. As a member of the Junior Frontiers I was able to gain valuable experiences through SAT/ACT prep courses, college tours, writing seminars, summer camps, the annual historical black college tour, and many more opportunities that were provided.


Through the Junior Frontiers I was provided with multiple opportunities and I have taken every opportunity presented to give back what was given to me. Last year I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for children from Macon County through the Youth Hope Builders Program at Tuskegee University. It is my mission to develop a program similarly setup to the Junior Frontiers of the Mohawk Valley once I am in my career. I know I did not get to where I am today on my own, I had a village behind me supporting me, encouraging me, and passing their knowledge on to me. I want to be like the people in my village, unselfishly giving of themselves to better someone else and being the catalyst for change in some else’s life.

Marquis Palmer - Being a Junior Frontier taught me so much more than how to excel in college; more importantly, it taught me that I must create opportunity myself and pursue it purposefully. Before becoming a Frontier, I knew that I wanted to go to college and eventually practice law or teach—but I didn’t know how, nor why, I was going to do any of this. During my time as a Junior Frontier, however, I was brought to realization that one must create opportunity in the pursuit of one’s goals, that one must actively dig one’s path toward success because very little can be passively achieved. But from where does one derive the energy to dig one’s own path - to create opportunity? The most valuable lesson I learned in Junior Frontiers is that to do anything meaningfully - especially to dig one’s own path and walk on up it - one must find purpose in what one is doing, for only purpose can drive one forward as far as one wants to go.


With these valuable lessons given to me by the Junior Frontiers, I have managed to shine during my time at Hamilton College, where I’m pursing a BA in Philosophy, and the University of Oxford, where I’m currently studying as a Visiting Student for my Junior Year Abroad. After I receive my BA, I hope to pursue a joint JD and PhD, first engaging in legal practice and then using that experience to inform the policy and scholarly work I hope to do. In the end, I aim to lift the voices of the most marginalized members of our society.

Gloribel Difo - As a Junior Frontiers alumna who just finished her first semester of college I can honestly say everything I learned through the organization contributed to me having a successful first semester. So many high school students are unaware of amazing organizations such as the Junior Frontiers that prepare students for a better future. Everything from how to carry yourself professionally and confidently to college tours and so much more the Junior Frontiers provides. The organization provided a safe space where I could join other students in striving towards a better future when I was in high school and continues to do that for other students today.


Besides all the resources I was given that led me to become a thriving college student the biggest benefit I received from the Junior Frontiers is support. In the three short years that I was a student in the program the people who formed part of it became like a second family to me. Everyone involved with the organization is dedicated to the success of its students and that kind of support and dedication is hard to find in other organizations. Even after graduating high school the Junior Frontiers continues to offer its support to me which I am forever grateful for.