I am 18 years old and a senior at Sci Academy. I was born in the 9th Ward of New Orleans.

Growing up in New Orleans isn’t easy because of the stereotypes placed on residents. I was rarely given opportunities to make something out of my life.

As I grew older, it was up to me to make myself into the person I am now. Since middle school, I have been aware of TOPS. I became determined to do whatever it takes to meet the requirements as my grade level grew.

When I enrolled in high school, I was not on track to meet the TOPS requirements. I entered high school with a reading level of a middle-schooler.

Knowing that I had dreams of being accepted to a university, I read as much as I could in order to finally reach a high-school reading level. Once I achieved my goal of increasing my reading level, I was then confident enough to make better grades. I am no longer letting my background or where I come from hold me back. I look to myself to get things done.

With this mindset, I made up my mind and decided that I was going to get into college. I know college is very expensive and the only way I can attend is to receive a TOPS scholarship, so it makes me work even harder.

Here at Sci Academy, we have the most students qualifying for TOPS out of any open-enrollment high school in the city, so all of my friends are working hard, too. With the TOPS scholarship, I only have to worry about paying for books, and room and board.

When I get to college, I want to major in business so I can increase diversity within businesses and public places. Growing up, I have had to deal with discrimination so I am determined to go above and beyond what is expected of me.

The TOPS scholarship is what puts me and my classmates on a path forward to do just that.

Jere A. Thompson

Class of 2016 Sci Academy

New Orleans