Achieve Tutor and TA, Casey McQuillan, recognized by Princeton Prize Board

Earlier this month, the Board of the Boston Princeton Prize in Race Relations recognized Casey McQuillan with a Certificate of Accomplishment in recognition for his work with Achieve. This incredible honor speaks to Casey’s dedication and commitment to Achieve and our students. After spending the summer of 2011 as an Intern, Casey has volunteered 60 hours of his time as an Achieve tutor on Saturdays during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years. Last summer, Casey transitioned into the role of a Teaching Assistant in Science during the summer months, a position he will continue this summer.

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Casey (center), poses with his certificate alongside Jody McQuillan, Achieve Director of Curriculum (left), and Eric Nguyen, Achieve Acting Director

In his application essay for the Princeton Prize, Casey wrote:

Social progress, understanding, and respect stem from education and experience; prejudice withers away when an individual remains informed and personally interacts with people of different backgrounds. The wide racial spectrum of students, including Haitian, Dominican, African, Cuban, Taiwanese, as well as many others, all from different neighborhoods in Boston come together at Achieve and build long-lasting friendships with one another. Of French and Welsh descent, I contribute my own personality and origin into this racially mixed environment. My volunteer work helps facilitate meaningful connections between students and with students over a mutual interest in education. I do not approach race with a “color-blind position”, but encourage each person to feel pride for their heritage and respect for other’s. When my Current Events club raises local racial issues, I foster a safe environment for the kids to vocalize their opinions on racial violence and discrimination in their communities. My students learn race is not something to be pushed aside nor something to define people by, but an important characteristic of one’s identity and something to take pride in. These students’ personal experiences with other people of different origins and different skin tone deconstruct any racial stereotypes originally held…

In three years, I watch each student enter the program after fifth grade and leave prepared for high school; adolescence proves a critical period of personal development for these students to define their values, ideas, and beliefs. With my close relationship to these students throughout the year, I receive a privileged view of each student’s personal growth while helping them find their passions and pursue their interests. My volunteer work helps transform these students into the people they want to be. In just the three years I have worked with Achieve, I have seen these underperforming students invigorated with a sense of purpose and admitted into some of the top charter and independent schools in the area. Kids who did not know what would be after high school or who never even thought about college suddenly dream of Ivy League schools and doctorate diplomas…

A senior at Westwood High School, Casey will attend Amherst College next fall. Although we will miss his energy, enthusiasm, and leadership during our Saturday sessions, we know that he will continue to make a difference in the lives of other students. Please join us in congratulating Casey on this award, and in wishing him the best of luck as he embarks on this next stage of his academic career!

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