Alums create scholarship to support first-generation Classic journalists


Image courtesy of Mehrose Ahmad

Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan at their graduation in 2017.

HTML tutorial

Class of 2017 graduates Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan have established a scholarship for Classic journalists to be awarded each year to a junior who is a committed member of the school’s journalism program. The scholarship provides the winner with $1000 for college costs and comes with mentoring in the application process.

Ms. Ahmad and Ms. Hasan are two of the most notable graduates to have worked on The Classic. They served as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief, respectively, from 2015 to 2017. Throughout their senior year, their coverage of Rosemarie Jahoda’s controversial tenure as interim acting principal of THHS garnered significant attention. 

Citing the influence of The Classic on their lives, Ms. Ahmad and Ms. Hasan said they wanted to give back to THHS. They hope to reward a first-generation student with the scholarship, along with providing assistance in drafting personal statements for college applications, preparing for exams, and seeking out opportunities.

Sumaita and I come from similar backgrounds. Born and raised in Queens while belonging to immigrant parents, we found ourselves navigating academics alone,” said Ms. Ahmad.

Our parents weren’t familiar with the ins and outs. There are many factors beyond test scores that go overlooked,said Ms. Hasan, adding that they want to encourage networking amongst students and alumni.

In January, the alumni reached out to Principal Brian Condon, Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee, and Classic advisor Brian Sweeney about launching the scholarship, all of whom agreed to support the proposal.

In an email, Mr. Condon described the scholarship as “wonderful, generous, and aligned with [the school’s] ethos.”

“I can’t think of better people to have behind this scholarship,” Mr. Sweeney said. After Ms. Ahmad and Ms. Hasan proposed donating $500, Mr. Sweeney said he would work with current Classic editors to allocate newspaper funds to match their donation, raising the scholarship’s value to $1000.

Ms. Fee worked with the alumni to set up the scholarship’s account. The winning junior will attend June’s senior Baccalaureate Awards ceremony to learn of their selection.

During Ms. Hasan and Ms. Ahmad’s tenure as Classic editors, professional newspapers like The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and The New York Post all cited their reporting on the principal hiring controversy. After they learned that a Department of Education representative dismissed the reporting on Ms. Jahoda as “fake news,” their response received national coverage.

In the fall of 2017, the Student Press Law Center awarded them its Courage in Student Journalism award at a convention attended by thousands of student journalists from across the country. At graduation, they received a “Special Services to the School” award, which only one other group of Classic journalists has received.

Ms. Ahmad went on to Barnard College, and will be a medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College in August. Ms. Hasan was a valedictorian for her class at Macaulay Honors College, and currently works as a journalist and editorial assistant for CUNY

“I know many students who deserve this [scholarship],” said Aradhna Da Silva, a sophomore staff member. “[The Classic] requires a lot of dedication. This makes sure the hard-work of first-generation [students] doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Features Copy-Editor Sophia Sookram, a first generation student herself, said, “I look around and I see just how much of a privilege it is to have parents who went through the [college] process. The fact that the scholarship comes with mentoring is really thoughtful.”

We cherish the opportunities the newspaper provided for us,” said Ms. Hasan. “We chose to narrow the field to Classic writers to give back.”

Ms. Hasan said her favorite memory from her time on the paper involved her days in “The Clave,” the name students have for the Classic office. She said she remembers working on stories with older editors for the first time, sharing food with the staff, and feeling like she’d found “the start of a new home away from home.”