Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the ReAction Youth Education Scholarships! ReAction is the NYAGV Education Fund’s gun violence prevention program taught at New York City public high schools.

The students, all seniors attending college in fall 2017, were awarded $750 scholarships for their outstanding leadership and participation as well as the lessons they took away from the program. This year, all of the winners graduated from the Leadership and Public Service High School in lower Manhattan.

Scholarship winners (L-R) Luis G. Mendoza, Sharon Perez, Yazmeen Vargas and Yesenia Tapia, with NYAGV program associate Kris Arroyo, at their June 28 graduation.

Congratulations to these impressive young leaders!

Luis G. Mendoza, who lives in the Bronx, will be attending New York City College of Technology, where he plans to study computer science. “The ReAction Program has provided me with new information on gun violence, social movements, police brutality and states’ rights that most aren’t aware of. I learned in this program that I can have a positive impact in my community.”

Sharon Perez, from Brooklyn, is going on to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she’ll study criminology. “I want to make a difference in my neighborhood because where I live there’s a lot of young students and I want to make sure they feel that they have someone they can go to for help, guidance, and most importantly, safety.”

Yazmeen Vargas, from the Lower East Side, will be studying at SUNY Purchase, majoring in playwriting and screenwriting. “I knew the difference between the sound of fireworks and gun shots from the age of seven, and I’ve lost friends to gun violence. At our Albany field trip, I gave a speech about the painful parts of my life, and everyone listened to me, understood me, and connected with me. The legislators said I gave them more motivation to fight for bills to prevent other children from growing up with gun violence. Now I feel that I can have an impact in my community.”

Yesenia Tapia, who lives in Harlem, will be attending LaGuardia Community College, where she’ll study criminal justice. “Being a part of this program has made me realize how important it is for change to occur. This is especially clear after losing a close friend of mine. His life ended due to gun violence and it makes me think his life could’ve had a different path if more voices were out there to share their experiences and change people’s mindsets on how they view gun violence.”