Dear TEAK Friends,
In my letter addressed to you last winter, I announced our aspiration to grow our Fellowship by 50% without compromising the quality of our educational program or the strength of our relationships. More specifically, I outlined our deliberate strategy to recruit our first cohort of 45 students and prepare for their arrival, including identifying a third off-site academic center in Queens and expanding and renovating our offices and classrooms on West 22nd Street. Six months into our first year of “growth,” I can report with confidence that TEAK is serving more exceptional students than at any time in its history while continuing to provide each of them with unparalleled academic enrichment, transformational experiences, and personal attention.
This winter, I could focus my attention on any one of a number of TEAK highlights over the past year. For example, Class 16 Fellows earned a 3.49 GPA at the end of their first semester. Of the 24 Class 17 Fellows, 19 out of 21 Fellows earned Early Admission at an extraordinary list of colleges and universities. Class 19 survived their first overnight outdoor educational experience at the Princeton-Blairstown Center in northwestern New Jersey, and Class 20 was on the receiving end of our first private swimming lessons. I could go on. These achievements and activities, in fact, merely scratch the surface.
I prefer to focus my attention and yours, however, on TEAK alumnae, Varina Clark, and Class 18 Fellow, Camryn Dixon, both of whom are featured in this newsletter. A graduate of Miss Porter’s School and Brown University, Varina is currently a medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is well on her way to achieving her goal of providing comprehensive, culturally responsive health care to patients in underserved communities. Camryn, only an eleventh grader at Grace Church School, wrote and submitted a meticulously researched op-ed published in TEEN VOGUE entitled, “The Roots of Racism in Health Care.” In it, Camryn reviews the sordid history of racism on our health services system and traces its impact on the conversation about health care today.
We are, of course, enormously proud of Varina and Camryn. That said, I am heartened to know that Varina and Camryn are but two of numerous TEAK alumni and Fellows who use their talents, grit, and TEAK training to make an impact disproportionate to their numbers and on the very people and communities badly in need of their contributions. You, too, are making a profound impact by transforming the individual lives of Varina, Camryn, and TEAK Fellows, but also by lifting entire communities as a result of their decision to pay it forward as a result of their goodwill and good works. For that and so much else, I sincerely thank you.
John F. Green