Living in a cramped basement apartment in Paterson was not easy for Aaron McLean and his family. But his parents were determined that Aaron and his two younger brothers would have top-notch educational opportunities including attending private schools.
His father, Donovan, arrived in this country first and worked for 6 years as a carpet installer. He saved money to be able to bring his wife, Andreen and young Aaron here from Jamaica. Once his family arrived, Donovan took on a second job while Andreen earned money cleaning homes. Hard work, the value of education and determination to succeed were imprinted early on young Aaron. “Both my parents instilled discipline and determination in me. My mom was always there when I had a test or report. She would break down the material with me. She really dug into whatever assignment I had to do,” Aaron explains.
His parents hoped to send Aaron to a safe, quality school, but it was difficult paying for the rent and private school tuition. Tri-County stepped in to help Aaron with scholarships, and provided critical tuition assistance each year from elementary school until he graduated DePaul High School. “I can’t thank Tri-County and all the donors enough. They really helped us a lot. I don’t think I could have made it without Tri-County” says Aaron.
Once in High School, Aaron’s passion for medicine began to form. In his Junior year alone, he took 7 honors classes. “I took so many sciences: Honors Anatomy & Physiology, Genetics, and then AP Biology. I want to become a surgeon or cardiologist. I really like how the heart works,” says Aaron.
Tri-County scholarships helped Aaron on his way to now being a pre-med student in college. Aaron currently attends Rutgers, Newark, as a Freshman, Pre-Med with a minor in Spanish. He is humble about being admitted into Rutgers’ highly selective, prestigious Honors College on a full scholarship where, as the website explains, “curious and motivated students are prepared to become leaders in their professions and communities.” He admits that he feels some pressure. “They expect a lot from me,” Aaron says, adding that he tries not to worry too much, instead putting his energy toward working hard to excel.
In addition to his parents, Aaron said there were many people who were consistently supportive and helped him. Says Aaron, “Ms. Biggins, my guidance counselor, helped me at every step, and the President of my school, Mr. Tweed, gave me summer internships. And of course, the Tri-County supporters were always there for me.”
Aaron feels fortunate to be part of the Tri-County family, and enjoys being able to meet many of the donors. “I just hope that a lot more kids have this opportunity that I’ve had. I definitely want to donate large sums of money in the future. That’s one of the things that motivates me to work hard,” says Aaron.