Gregory was in the 5th grade and functionally illiterate when he joined SCAN. He attended our after-school tutoring program for four years then joined our Reach for the Stars program, eventually working for SCAN as a peer mentor and day camp counselor. Gregory then went on to receive a full scholarship at Holderness Prep, and a basketball scholarship from Hofstra University, from which he graduated from in 2009. Today, Gregory is the Assistant Director at SCAN’s Jackie Robinson Cornerstone center.
Foster care, homelessness and emergency shelters punctuated Jamel Oeser-Sweat’s youth. Fatherless since he was four, Jamel was uprooted from the squalid South Bronx apartment where he lived with his mother and two brothers to avoid foster care. They ended up in a run-down homeless shelter known for its drug dealing. The family later moved to a housing project and shortly thereafter, Jamel’s mother was hospitalized with a chronic psychological illness.
Jamel was introduced to SCAN in the early ‘90s. His family received counseling, extensive casework and programming designed to strengthen the family unit in the face of their overwhelming obstacles. Jamel joined SCAN’s first Manhattan afterschool group – an early venue for the agency’s youth empowerment experiences – and was soon a peer mentor in SCAN’s PS121 partnership, the predecessor of our Reach For The Stars upward bound program.
After graduating from high school, the true extent of Jamel’s talents and drive were soon evident, as he pursued careers in microbiology and then law: he became a Westinghouse Science Scholarship finalist, received a certificate in recombinant DNA techniques from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, earned a full scholarship to NYU, and then went on to St. John’s Law School.
Today, Jamel runs his own law firm, and has been a SCAN Board Member for more than 10 years.