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Kudos for students from under-resourced high schools who aced courses from Stanford, other universities

The induction of a select group of high schoolers into a nonprofit’s honor society offers these scholars proof of their potential to excel in pursuit of higher education degrees.
Joyti Adiba, a senior at Mathematics, Science Research, and Technology High School in Queens, was one of 750 scholars inducted into the National Honor Society of the National Education Equity Lab on Feb. 15.
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High school senior Joyti Adiba was recently heralded as valedictorian of last fall’s Howard University course, Environmental Science and Justice. That followed her getting the top grade in Stanford’s Introduction to Bioengineering the previous semester. And that came after her acing another Stanford course, as well as courses from Arizona State University, Cornell University, and Georgetown University.

All these college successes — and it won’t be until June when the young woman, who immigrated two years ago to New York City from Bangladesh, will graduate from Mathematics, Science Research, and Technology High School in Queens.

Joyti was one of 750 scholars inducted on Feb. 15 into the National Honor Society of the National Education Equity Lab, a nonprofit that brings credit-bearing college courses and support to underserved high schools across the country. She is the first person in her family to pursue a higher education degree.

“Taking classes from all these prestigious colleges while still at high school is such a unique and valuable opportunity,” Joyti said in her speech at a virtual ceremony and celebration for the honor students. “You get to experience what it’s like to be a college student and get transferable college credits. So, when I'm going to start college in the fall, I'll be more prepared than other freshmen around me.”

The scholars at the Feb. 15 event scored in the top 20 percent in Ed Equity Lab college courses, such as Stanford’s Introduction to Computers; Arizona State University’s Introduction to Cloud Computing (with Amazon Web Services) and Introduction to Sociology; Brown University’s Law and Literature; Cornell University’s Climate Change and You and Data Science and Decision Making; Georgetown University’s Map of the Modern World; Howard University’s Environmental Science and Justice and College Algebra (with Khan Academy); Morehouse College’s Social Problems; University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School’s Essentials of Personal Finance; and Wesleyan University’s Introduction to Psychology and Live Like a Philosopher: Ethics and Civics in the Ancient World.

The new honor society members hail from 70 cities, spanning from New York to Hawaii.

An affirmation of accomplishment

Leslie Cornfeld

This recognition of achievement, the scholars were told, is meant to be shared on college admissions applications, on resumes, and with employers as powerful evidence of their academic abilities, talents, and work ethic. (In attendance were admissions leaders from Brown, Cornell, and Morehouse, among others.) “It makes you stand out,” Leslie Cornfeld, founder and chief executive officer of the Ed Equity Lab, said in her opening remarks at the gathering.

Even more important is the message that this accomplishment sends to the scholars themselves. “What it proves is that you belong in college and you belong in the best matched college for you,” Cornfeld said. “We all have that little voice in our head of, ‘Do I belong? Am I capable of doing okay in college?’ 

“And I hope now you have seen that that little voice should really now be saying, ‘Yes I can. I can succeed in college. I have succeeded in an actual college class.’

“And on that note, I tell you scholars, congratulations!” 

How Stanford’s partnership with the Ed Equity Lab works

The National Education Equity Lab began offering courses in 2019 and has enrolled more than 25,000 students across 31 states to date. 

Stanford Digital Education has worked with the nonprofit organization to offer Computer Science 105: Introduction to Computers and four other courses since fall 2021. 

Matthew Rascoff photo
Matthew Rascoff

“We could not have made Stanford courses available to hundreds of students in under-resourced high schools without the exceptional partnership we have with the National Education Equity Lab,” said Matthew Rascoff, Stanford’s vice provost for digital education. “Together we have developed a novel and powerful approach to digital learning that has the potential to reach tens of thousands of learners who have never before been able to access Stanford’s tremendous educational resources.”

The Stanford courses are taught to students in their high school classrooms, under the direction of their high school teachers. The university also selects a group of undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni to serve as instructors, referred to as teaching fellows (TFs), who are assigned to each classroom; these TFs deliver weekly lessons via Zoom and hold online office hours to work with students individually. Students asynchronously watch recorded lectures from Stanford faculty, as well as using other materials provided by faculty and course administrators at Stanford. 

What honor society students said about CS 105

CS 105 had 32 students from eight high schools named to the Honor Society. Each of these high schools, like all Ed Equity Lab high schools, serve scholars from historically underserved communities, with the majority of Ed Equity scholars poised to be among the first-generation in their families to earn a college degree. We asked a student from each classroom to offer their thoughts about the course:

Mohammad Islam, CS 105 valedictorian

“Stanford’s CS 105 helped me deepen my passion for technology while challenging me much more than my high school classes. It helped me feel confident I could handle the workload at Stanford, my dream school. Furthermore, being named valedictorian showed me my potential to succeed in college and beyond!”

Mohammad Islam is a sophomore at Birmingham Community Charter High School, Van Nuys, California.

Kevin Garrido

“The Stanford course was fast-paced with a fair amount of difficulty. I had to take it as the highest priority, and that practice kept me on track. I was not expecting an honor roll award since I was only doing the right thing. I have deeply acknowledged my hard work and this magnificent opportunity.”

Kevin Garrido is a senior at Antioch High School, Nashville, Tennessee.

Shiloh George

“As a high school student aspiring to pursue a career in the STEM field, my successful completion of the CS 105 course has given me assurance that I am capable of handling college-level coursework. Assignments were rigorous, but seeing my hard work manifest into my own websites was truly rewarding!”

Shiloh George is a junior at Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School, Brooklyn, New York.

Logan Gonzalez

“Being in the Stanford CS 105 course was an amazing experience. I’m happy to have been able to further my knowledge in computer science and this class cemented my interest in the field. Being named to the Honor Society feels unreal but shows me that all my hard work paid off.”

Logan Gonzalez is a junior at Huntington Park High School, Huntington Park, California.

 Keegan Harmon

“I enjoyed CS 105. I was relieved to know how many tools I had if I was confused by an assignment. It was also a unique experience for me, understanding more how the online system of a college works, both from how the class itself functioned and from the materials provided.”

Keegan Harmon is a senior at Aspire Vanguard College Preparatory Academy, Modesto, California.

Celeste Herrera

“I really enjoyed taking Stanford’s CS 105 course. It helped me find my passion for coding. All the staff were friendly, helpful, and encouraging throughout my entire learning process. This course has given me the confidence to further study computer science for my future education and business.”

Celeste Herrera is a senior at Reseda Charter High School, Reseda, California.

Kelvin Bello Mejia

“The Stanford Computer Science 105 course was very informative for me. Through it I learned many things, going from computer hardware and software to website creation, encryption, and also a variety of other things. In addition to this, I share my sincerest gratitude towards my selection into the honor roll.”

Kelvin Bello Mejia is a junior at Richmond Hill High School, Richmond Hill, New York.

Elijah Hanz Cantos Montalbo

“I’m not an expert on computers, but the CS 105 class gave me insight into the basics of creating a webpage in an engaging and effective way. This course has taught me that it is never too late to try something new.”

Elijah Hanz Cantos Montalbo is a senior at Belmont High School, Los Angeles, California.

Jonathan Rabinovitz is communications director for Stanford Digital Education.

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