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Where Are They Now? – Shadae Leslie

Shadae Leslie, a 2016 Mount Vernon High School graduate, is currently in her junior year at Boston University. There, she is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Public Relations at the College of Communications. She also expects to graduate in the spring of 2020 with a minor in African American Studies.

She attributes the mentorship she received through Mount Vernon’s Star Scholar program for helping to navigate her on her current educational pursuit. Through the program, Shadae received guidance while applying to colleges, writing her application essays, and even assistance when touring potential colleges and universities.

“Star Scholars receives funding that can help offset the cost of college applications or cover transportation and lodging when visiting prospective schools,” said Shadae. “I first visited Boston University with Star Scholars; we toured Harvard and BU in the same trip. Who knows if I would be here if it weren’t for that experience.”

When she arrived at BU in the fall of 2016, Shadae was a journalism major – a field she first became interested in while attending MVHS.

“Prior to my junior year, Mount Vernon introduced a journalism elective. I had room in my schedule for it, so I enrolled in the course for the upcoming school year,” she said. “Throughout the year, I completed a lot of on-camera interviews, which has been a valuable skill in my current public relations classes.”

She credits Mr. Greshes, an AP English teacher at MVHS, for equipping her (and many of her fellow students) with a strong foundation in writing that has proven useful in her college-level courses.

“The transition to college wasn’t as difficult because Mr. Greshes had shared insightful tips and strategies that I’ve applied to my college writing,” she said.

Some of the most useful tips he shared include the benefits of building and sticking to an outline when writing, as well as argumentative persuasion tactics – a strategy Mr. Greshes used when practicing law prior to beginning his career in teaching.

Another high school experience that helped shape Shadae’s interest in writing was her relationship with Ms. Williams, a counselor at Mount Vernon High School. While serving as President for MVHS’s chapter of the National Honor Society, Shadae worked with Ms. Williams to create Teens Harvesting Undiscovered Greatness (T.H.U.G), a book to be published by the Mount Vernon City School District. For the project, Shadae conducted interviews and drafted articles highlighting success stories of Mount Vernon graduates.

“T.H.U.G. was created to encourage and inspire students. To show them that despite where you’re from, you can make it anywhere,” said Shadae.

This same mentality was echoed in Shadae’s involvement with Her Honor, a mentorship program founded by Judge Judy and her daughter, Nicole Sheindlin. Shadae was one of approximately 50 high school seniors from across Westchester County to complete the yearlong program in 2015-2016. Through this program, Shadae worked alongside a mentor in the Admissions department at the College of Westchester, and received compensation for her work.

“I was able to use that money to help cover the cost of college applications and even purchase some items for my dorm room,” she noted.

Shadae has taken on a variety of leadership roles since beginning her undergraduate career. She has served as an account executive for BU’s award-winning PRLab, the longest-running student-led PR agency in the country, and currently holds the positions of president of Sisters United at Boston University, and team captain at the Center for Career Development as well as the Educational Resource Center.

“I credit MVHS for allowing me the opportunity to not only enhance my leadership and writing skills, but to see where they can take me,” said Shadae. “Thanks to my experiences there, I am now able to use those lessons throughout my collegiate career in an effort to explore all possibilities.”

Shadae recently completed an internship at Mass Appeal Media Inc., where she was introduced to new disciplines in the communications field, specifically geared toward the music industry. She worked with their research team on documentaries, as well as the company’s in-house record label attorney. This experience has led her to consider a career in entertainment law or business.