AlumUpdate AUGUST 2014
Shariq Marshall grew up in Paterson, NJ, with a loving, supportive single mom, Dorothy, and his younger sister, Iramecca. His lighthearted, humorous school demeanor underwent a serious transition during middle school years when his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was the class clown, but…my mom’s illness made me realize you have to do your best because you never know when someone is going to need you… and I just want to be as successful as I can,” says Shariq.
From that moment on Shariq became committed to his academic success. He was awarded a Tri-County scholarship and entered DePaul Catholic High School in his freshman year. “He gives 110% in all his work. If he can’t understand something, he’s doesn’t give up”, says Dorothy, his mother. Carol Van Houten, Shariq’s Guidance Counselor at DePaul, agrees “he is a true gentlemen, scholar and athlete, a team player who was not only an honor student, but is someone who lives his life with honor.”
His dedication and ambition resulted in Shariq being awarded a full scholarship to Rider University in New Jersey where, in addition to the full academic year course load he will take this September, he is currently taking summer courses as part of his communications/journalism major. “I’m the first of my generation to go to college and that’s even more motivation to set the bar high for my little sister and cousins”, Shariq says. “I want them to look at me and say, ‘I want to do what Shariq did.’ I’m really grateful – not a lot of people get this opportunity. I need take full advantage of it.”
In addition to his academic success, Shariq is also an accomplished athlete. He played football and competed in the 100 meters and 4×100 relays in track, culminating in participation in the national USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships.
A main focus of Shariq’s life is his desire to reach out to help others and give back. He has volunteered at Paterson City Hall, Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, his church, and a local nursing home. These activities have enriched and shaped his character, helping him realize the importance of humility and gratitude.
He feels fortunate to have been a Tri-County scholar. “I’m so blessed by the donors. Without Tri-County I don’t know where I’d be,” says Shariq. “Meeting donors at the Tri-County dinner was a great opportunity to meet people who didn’t even know me but cared about me. I know that Tri-County is going to keep growing and giving other kids the opportunities I had.”
Born and raised in Paterson, NJ by a single mom, Alessandra (Ally) Veliz worked hard to excel in school. Says Ally, “My mom always taught us that learning is power”.
Ally’s mother Rosa, a Peruvian immigrant, led by example, attaining a bachelor’s degree despite economic hardships and a divorce. Although Rosa became unemployed and life was “really hard”, she remained determined to give her 3 children a good education. “We hoped I’d find a scholarship to go to private school. When Tri-County called, it was a great relief and we were really, really happy,” says Ally.
Always a committed student, Ally struggled during her parents’ divorce. “I fell behind,” Ally says, “but my teachers and guidance counselor helped me by consistently checking in with me and always challenging me to do better.” With ongoing support, Ally thrived. “My greatest success was junior year. I went to an amazing film program at Wesleyan University’s summer camp” Ally says, “learning all aspects of filmmaking and producing a short film about divorce. I did a lot of growing.”
Ally built her character and abilities by participating in filmmaking initiatives, Musical Theatre, World Languages, Honor Society and French Club. She continues to give back by working in a Christian service program that helps children, the elderly and poor, and working in a local “after-care” elementary school program.”I want to help others. So many have helped me – it’s only fair I help somebody else,” says Ally.
Through it all, Ally remains grateful to Tri-County donors: “I’m just so grateful for everything they’ve done. DePaul is an amazing school and we (her fellow TCSF scholars) all agree we’ve grown in ways we couldn’t have if we’d gone anywhere else. That’s entirely due to the people who donate,” asserts Ally.
Accepted to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Film Program, the #1 rated film program in the country, Ally will likely take a “gap year” to work and save money for college. She is committed to her goal of becoming a professional filmmaker. Carol Van Houten, her guidance counselor, has no doubt about Ally’s future success, “She’s very hard working and very bright, one of the brightest students we’ve had in a long time. If you put a barrier in front of her she’ll find a way to get over it.” With character like that, we’re sure we’ll be hearing about Ally in the future.