My High School Experience - From Summer Reading to LEAP to College!

By Aisha A. RSS Tue, June 30, 2015

"My name is Shanae. I am a Class of 2015 graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls, and I will be attending Penn State University in the fall. I attribute my foundation for learning to my mother, who was never too hesitant to buy me scholastic reading and math books, as well as other learning materials. She also made sure that I participated in summer enrichment programs at the YMCA and Salvation Army summer camps, and our family celebrated Black History Month books fairs and other numerous events. I attended Mrs. Marty’s preschool at the age of five and went to Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library for story time twice a week. The picture books were exciting and I slowly fell in love with reading. My mother saw my passion and enrolled me in the Parkway Central Library’s Summer Reading Program. My first computer experience was at the Parkway Central Children’s Department. One of the librarians named Mrs. Irene Wright assisted me with reading and math programs on the computer. I would sit for what seemed like hours, looking at picture books, reading with amazement, and eventually reading novels like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. By my junior year of high school, I had achieved academic excellence and distinguished honors. I had gained respect from my teachers and fellow classmates as being a high achiever. I joined after-school clubs, such as African dance club, community service, and career day groups, as well as volunteer work for the American Red Cross. It was the foundation of learning at an early age that helped me gain and maintain my abilities to stay focused, practice good study habits, take good notes in class, review materials, and seek help from my teacher after class. I also participated in study groups to achieve above and beyond academic excellence.

My freshman year of high school was exciting yet challenging. It was a major transition for me. During this time, I received my first “C”, which was a major shock to me as well as a wake-up call. Shortly after, I decided it was time for me to change my tactics and set some academic goals for myself. I started a time management system of doing my homework and studying ahead of time. I made sure to set aside plenty of time to study and to get clarification of study materials from my teachers to ensure that I was comprehending the material. Also, a tradition of Girls High is to be paired up in the Big Sister/Little Sister mentoring program, in which a senior is paired up with a freshman to provide transitional support. My grades started improving a great deal by the third report card and I was well on my way.

During my sophomore year, I applied for a job with the LEAP after-school program and worked at the Logan Library under the guidance of librarian, Mrs. Belita Thornton. I worked after school as a Teen Leadership Assistant, which was one of the best experiences of my life. There was never a day where I was not helping someone advance in their academic skills by assisting them with their homework, mentoring them in academic areas in which they struggled, or playing educational games to help them with their educational development. Assisting students helped me gain repetitive, remedial experience. Mrs. Thornton has such great programs for children and teens, and I gained a lot of knowledge and work experience under her leadership.

In my senior year at Girls High, I worked at the Logan Library once again and developed the tools that I knew I needed to succeed in college, such as focus, dedication, determination, social skills, and community service. I ended high school with a 3.95 GPA. I achieved academic excellence, received numerous financial awards, and gained exclusive membership into programs such as Mu Alpha Theta, which is awarded by the National Math Honor’s Society. I’m also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and I received the U.S. Educational Program Award. I’ve received financial aid awards that will cover the total cost of my four years of college! Over the summer, I will be attending a leadership/college prep workshop and performing volunteer work. As the Girls High motto goes: vincit qui se vincit, which is Latin for “she conquers who conquers herself”.

I look forward to attending Penn State in the fall; my major is in Technology Engineering and my minor is in Accounting. I also look forward to my college life and to learning, as I have great confidence that the foundation and ground work has already been laid. To get where I am today, I had to set high goals and persist through challenges, which inspired a passion for lifelong learning and for pursuing my dreams of procuring a bachelor’s degree and hopefully a Master’s degree in the field of Mathematics. It would be a dream come true to share my talents, vision, and potential for the betterment of myself, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, and the rest of the world." - Shanae

For more information on TOPSS and Free Library's College Prep Program, please contact:

Free Library of Philadelphia
The Office of Public Service Support (TOPSS)
College Prep Program

1901 Vine Street, Room 5A
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Office: 215-686-5372
Fax: 215-686-5374
Stay Connected:  Twitter icon facebook  

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

Leave this field empty

Add a Comment to My High School Experience - From Summer Reading to LEAP to College!

Email is kept private and will not be displayed publicly
Comment must be less than 3000 characters
You remind me so much of myself. Education is key to a successful and enriching life. Keep up the great work and God Bless!
Reana Gilchrist MHS - Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Girls' High affords an excellent experience. It fosters the scholastic traits instilled in the students upon entry to high school. It also assists in developing work ethic that will last a lifetime. Class 236.
Tanisha Merritt - King of Prussia
Thursday, July 2, 2015

This gave me chills. I am a GHS grad (214) and also an alumna of the Free Library of Philadelphia's summer reading club at the Wadsworth Avenue branch. I adored that library while I was growing up and it definitely impacted my academic success. Congratulations, Shanae, and thanks for sharing that wonderful story.
Randi Mezzy - Hamden, CT
Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shanae, Congratulations on your success. As a LEAP ASL, who tries to encourage participating children & TLAs to grasp all the benefits of the Free Library system and their academic experiences, it is quite rewarding to hear of the manner in which you have grown through your related experiences. Kudos to you, your Mom, Coleman Library and Penn State for welcoming you in. Best of success in your future endeavors. I'm sure you'll accomplish great things!
Kimberly Hollinger - LEAP ASL, NIC Branch
Sunday, October 18, 2015