FROM THE DESK OF OUR
CEO

Dr. marc Spencer

Dr. Marc Spencer has devoted his 25 plus year career to organizations that promote educational and economic opportunities to young people and communities. Marc’s leadership is defined by a commitment to social justice and equity, paired with an entrepreneurial spirit and drive.


Marc joined Summer Search as CEO and Board President in 2017 and is leading the organization’s growth and change under a bold and visionary strategic direction.


what summer search means to me

OUR Voices MATTER

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There is so much excitement around welcoming new students and families. Informing families about the experience their student is about to engage in is rewarding; The families get to be involved in something that is new and exciting for their students.

Monica Manzo - Mentor

I am a mentor because my students—amazing, creative, passionate, curious people—have so much value to offer, but the world we live in frequently discounts what young people, and especially young people of color, have to contribute. I want them to know that their voices, ideas, and experiences matter, because those are the forces I hope will shape our future.

Cassandra Trujillo - Mentor

Summer Search has taught me that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I believe in paying it forward, so I want to mentor others and give back. This program changed me and I want to give that same opportunity to someone else. I want to provide mentorship, inspiration, and lessons that can be instilled in future generations and be passed down, creating a better world.

Cesar Cortorreal - Student

Seeing myself accomplish those things (Summer Search experiences) made the small high school tasks seem not so large anymore. My horizon has broadened in the sense that I see myself as a more capable person. I’m more confident in myself and my abilities. I came back from each summer experience stronger than I’d been before. These experiences brought life lessons and values that I was able to extract and apply to my life, long after I returned home. I came back with a mindset that I needed and was prepared to accomplish more… I broke through the ceiling of what I thought was possible for me to accomplish, and I know what I want to pursue in the future.

Mahdi Mohammed - Student

Love Black people as much as you love Black music and Black culture. Until you do, society will continue to buy into the false notion that people of color are less than—a concept already deeply embedded in America’s collective psyche which is reinforced again and again through depictions in media. The time for change is now.

Ebonee Davis - Alumni

My Summer Search experience helped me transform from a girl with many fears and anxieties to a young woman confident in her abilities to overcome them. I just graduated from high school and am heading to Tufts University in the fall to study International Relations. I also just returned from a trip to Ethiopia, where I was born, with my family!

Elebetel - Student

Before I was a part of ETC (Environmental Traveling Companions), I was shy, pessimistic, and kept to myself most of the time. ETC gave me courage. They saw potential in me—something I could not even see. They helped me harness that potential and turned me into a leader. I found my voice and learned how to use it, and to my surprise, I am doing things I never thought I would ever do. I am leading sea kayaking trips for my peers and guiding my fellow students through whitewater rapids. With these newfound leadership skills, I have been inspired to educate my community about environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Lana Salvador - ETC Youth LEAD Graduate

“Trusting Regina, my mentor, made me feel like I can change the world. It made me realize that I needed people who have my back as much as I have theirs. Regina is part of my chosen family, one of the people that I can turn to.”

Ren Peredo - Student

I did not think I was going to make it during my first summer trip. It was intense, and I thought I was going to give up, but I finished it. That trip taught me about the power of teamwork. I want to learn how to really be alone. I won’t know anyone when I go away to Brown, and this is a chance for me to learn complete independence.

Madison - Student

It’s great to share personal professional tips and be to be part of students’ development as they embark on their professional careers. Working with the students as a Career Coach, I am able to see first-hand the impact of the Summer Search program. Summer Search is truly passionate about setting up students for success and this is felt throughout my engagement with the Summer Search staff and students — one of the many reasons I believe in Summer Search’s mission.

Amelia Hadi - Career Coach

Summer Search showed me a world that I had never seen before. Through my visits to Summer Search on Wall Street I got a glimpse into a world that was light years away from the cash register that my mom bagged groceries at every single day. At Summer Search I got to hear from folks about their interesting jobs and I began to dream about how I could get there one day."

Riana Shah - Alumni

At Summer Search, Luce discovered that her goals for college and beyond were within her family’s reach. With the dedicated support of the Summer Search team who worked in partnership with her family, Luce found the financial resources to attend college and achieve her dreams.

Luce - Student

Summer Search, in no light tones, has meant the absolute world to me. The sheer compassion and empathy are characteristics of Summer Search that have allowed me to flourish on my journey. Without their guidance, I am sure I would have had a very different, and much less pleasant college experience. Because of Summer Search, I have found avenues for my life that this organization has enabled me to reach. The mentors of Summer Search have changed my life in beautiful ways.

Mysonne Brown - Student

“Put yourself out there, be open-minded. Be yourself, but allow yourself to maneuver with new resources and opportunities because you never know who you might grow up into.”

Mohamed Abdi - Student

Summer Search gave me the gift of seeing my life, even my hardships, as a beautiful narrative. My journey took me from being a low-income refugee child from Vietnam, to a Gates Millennium Scholar, to a Whitman College graduate, to now working as a grant-maker at a community foundation with nearly a billion dollars in assets.

Bao-Tram Do - Alumni

The most powerful thing about my first trip was leaving my family for so long. I am used to having them around. Being independent was a new thing for me, and it was something that I really appreciated. The trip also taught me to appreciate my family even more. I think this trip will help me learn to be away from my family while going to school. It’ll allow me to take some of that fear away. It’s important because I’m slowly preparing to become an independent individual for when I go to college.

Angel - Student

Just because I am from an underprivileged area doesn’t mean I am uneducated or unworthy of going to college. I feel like a lot of people believe that, I want to break away from that stereotype.

NATHALY ABREU - Student

I was devasted when I found out I had been denied by every college except one. My mentor listened and reassured me that everything was going to be OK because that's what Summer Search does. They help us think beyond what seems feasible at the moment. Summer Search was there to help me overcome adversity in many ways. At times, they believed in me more than I believed in myself.

Joam Marmolejos - Alumni

"When I got back home from my trip, I felt like a new person just because I learned so much about my life that I started to change the way that I lived."

Diane Pham - Student

The trip to Costa Rica was more influential in that [I learned]: no matter what type of work you do, no matter what you engage in, there is always room, always a chance to help people, and always a chance to extend your work to the public. Science can be applied day-to-day to help people, in remote villages in rural China, or maybe in the Caribbean islands to help them build solar panels or find more accessible water sources. I feel like [my trip] taught me that no matter what type of knowledge I acquire, whether theoretical or very abstract it can all be boiled down to something very practical that I can use to help influence the world.

Ian Lee - Student

I spent 25 days living in a rural village, doing community service. Oh, and by the way, I only had one backpack, a small school backpack! I may have arrived in Thailand with very little, but I came home rich, believing that anything is possible!

CHENTESE STEWART - Student

I found the networking reception particularly valuable because this event reiterated the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, and the fact that it is all around us.

Lorraine Cawili - Alumni

It’s all about chance and opportunity, and it’s up to you to choose to take the chance and go for the opportunity. Trust me when I say that there were many times that I took a risk and I failed, but those failures just inspired me to push harder.

Shakya Geiger - Student

Being in the White House felt empowering. Walking the same halls that many successful, powerful and intelligent people once walked made me feel ensured that I can make it anywhere in life I want if I stick to it like Michelle Obama did. I learned that you can’t do everything alone and to ask for help when you need it, and to get involved. Getting involved helps an unknown, alone and strange place become home. Getting involved will get you connects, friends and most of all a new place to call home.

Brittnee Anderson - Student

I chose San Francisco State University because I want to pursue a major in Criminal Justice. As a Latina, I want to show women they can also work as a police officer, I was inspired by the loss of my father.

Dora Tobar - Student

I was normally not in the front of the canoe, so when I was there I thought ‘finally!’ I felt like I was going to fly or something. When we were going through the rapids the canoe went up really high and I thought ‘WOW, this is really great!

Alan - Student

I’m writing to express my sincere gratitude for all the time and dedication you (Donaciano Torres) have put into working with me. As a proud member of Summer Search, I am very lucky to be granted with such an inspiring mentor who has not only provided me with the best guidance, but also motivated me to overcome obstacles that have challenged me throughout my high school career. I never thought I would learn so much about myself from someone else. If it weren’t for everything you told me, I wouldn’t have believed in myself or seen what I’m really capable of. I’m very grateful to not only have someone to guide me, but a friend to talk to. I know that no matter what you will always be there with the perfect guidance and advice that will continue to help me grow. I know I’m not the only one who feels grateful for having such an inspiring mentor. If it weren’t for the Summer Search program not many of us would have experienced life-changing moments or had someone to lead us into an educated future. Thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do for Summer Search students.

Carolina - Student

Mentoring has always been part of my personal and professional life. Being a first-generation college graduate, I’ve experienced having mentors along the way helping me get to where I am today. I mentor because our students are filled with creative and positive change, and I want to bring that out. I want to support them in developing the change inside them. And I hope they see themselves as instruments of transformation. I also want my students to know that there are people, like me, who want them to use their voice and their strengths to help them define their own idea of success.

Miriam Pena-Allen - Summer Search Mentor

“Due to the short distance between my school and the Bronx office, it is much easier to get to know everyone there and to have the availability to stop in and say ‘hi.’ It is such great news to hear about Summer Search expanding here and I [was] really eager to check out the new office!”

Bryan - Student

These students are all quite wonderful, and worked hard, but they also had something that others did not. They had their past experience and lessons from Summer Search to fall back on when things got hard. When they got knocked down during their college years (which they all did, a lot), they got back up. When they needed help, they knew how to communicate and ask for that help. They knew how to do all of this because they’d learned these skills as Summer Searchers.

Melissa Cohen - Referral Partner

We have recruited Summer Search students as interns for over eight years, we LOVE working with Summer Searchers because of their amazing resilience, drive, and problem-solving skills. We enjoy hearing about their wilderness and community service trips, and they are always to first to step up and volunteer for community service events at Loomis. Summer Searchers bring creativity to us for a ten-week period, and the place seems so quiet and empty without their energy.

Meg Clough - Director, Community Investments

I think taking a moment to imagine how daunting some things are for a 15-year-old in the Summer Search demographic is what motivates me to continue supporting the organization year after year. There are things I had never thought about – such as how unimaginably intimidating things like FAFSA, travel, and internships must be without people around you who have experienced them. Where do you start? How tempting is it to give up? Summer Search isn’t a nice-to-have, this program is so important.

Diana Markot - Community Partners

The benefits of mentoring for young people are significant and well-established – youth development research shows that quality mentoring relationships with a caring adult have powerful positive effects on young people’s educational, personal, and professional situations, especially for young people who face an opportunity gap. For nearly 30 years, Summer Search has provided 1:1 mentoring with trained staff mentors to high school and college students from underserved communities.

Dr. Mark Spencer - Summer Search CEO

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Yarelie Magallon - Intern on the National Marketing Team

Being Black is an opportunity. People are always watching me. Waiting for me to reinforce or interrupt their notions of Black men. Undoubtedly, this is a heavy burden, but one I bear with pride. My life’s work is enhancing the aesthetic of Black folks. I take that very seriously. If I can serve as a window into our bruised and unwavering spirit, then perhaps I can change the world. One mind at a time.

Dexter Moore - Alumni

Summer Search played a big role in helping me change the narrative of my life. Without the influence of Summer Search and my family, particularly my mother, I might have never escaped the cycle of violence and prison that many of my neighborhood friends found themselves in. Many of my friends are still affected by this today… something has to be done, someone has to actually step up to the plate to cause some type of change.

Shahmar Beasley - Student

I remember walking across the stage at my middle school graduation and thinking, wow, this is a big accomplishment for me. I had made it further than my father, and was on my way to high school. I attended Saturday school in order to make up the credits I needed to be able to graduate. That is when my first mentor, Martha Nunez, stepped in to help guide me. She took me under her wing and gave me unconditional support. It didn’t matter if I wasn’t doing well in school, she believed in my potential and pushed me to be better. She challenged me to be a leader, to use my voice, to step outside of my comfort zone. She became a beacon of light, who was always guiding people to shore. I decided that I wanted to be like her, to be there for students in any situation. I became a mentor to be able to give back to my community, to support students not just academically but emotionally as Martha had done for me.

Donaciano Botello Torres, - Mentor

"..In the mirror of the wilderness, love found me. So every time I hear Summer Search, I remember what is like to love and to be afraid of it but to become completely compelled by its beauty".

Kamora Chapman - Student

My Summer Search mentors allowed me to process my thoughts as I talked through my decisions with someone who was unbiased. This was extremely helpful. My mentors also helped me throughout the process of evaluating financial aid and applying for it, which made Harvard more affordable and contributed to my decision to enroll there.

Rasmee - Student

As a student twenty years ago, I encountered Summer Search as a series of experiences and conversations that helped me learn about myself. I never knew why these experiences were so transformative. Now I know that Summer Search takes a developmental approach with each student, using the same model, but requiring incredible skill and flexibility to meet each student where they are in their journey. The mentoring is tailored specifically to each student in how we build relationships, promote reflective conversations, and celebrate tangible successes that create a storyline for each student that they have an important voice, are capable and are the leaders our world needs. As a student I saw myself as just another kid, now I know all along Summer Search saw something much more!

Stacey Thompson - Alumni

I want to see more students that are ready to step into a leadership role to teach more students peer empowerment for academic success. We can really learn a lot more if we pay attention to each other and reach out when we need help.

Zion - Student

My supportive spirit is something that I developed during my time in the Summer Search program. Summer Search taught me a lot. First, the importance of mentorship. I never knew the value of mentorship until Summer Search and how much it is needed at every step of a person’s path. And second, the commitment to service. If there is any string that is constantly weaving its way through my life, it’s the value I place in serving others. Now, when I think of my career and how I shape it, at the heart will always be this commitment to help others find their success and do it in a way that creates a stronger community.

Marie Angels - Alumni

“As a first-generation college student, I couldn’t be any more proud of myself,”
“I can’t wait for the next 4 years to begin! Future Black Male Educator right here!”

Imere Williams - Student

Think about how you can use the power of your education to do great things: to highlight important truths, to inspire action, to support a cause that’s close to your heart, whatever that cause may be. You see, I write songs for a living now, but when I was in high school I didn’t see writing as one of my strengths. But I had an English teacher named Mrs. Bodey who believed in me… I had a high school counselor named Mr. Dickson who helped me gain confidence in my skills, and pushed me to aim high. They helped me earn a scholarship to Penn (the University of Pennsylvania), and there, I was able to gain access to all the doors a college education opens.

John Legend - Community Partner

The truth is, all human beings feel every emotion. It doesn’t matter what your gender is. There are times when you’ll feel happy, angry, sad, and everything in between. In these moments, we don’t need judgement. We need understanding and safety. It needs to be known that it’s okay to feel how you feel. It’s okay to be anxious or depressed. We need to know that there is help. We need to know that there as positive coping mechanisms, like meditation, prayer, and exercise. We also need to understand that perfection is impossible and that we are all beautifully flawed individuals. We won’t always make the right decisions, and that’s okay. We can just try again the next day. Let’s all make an effort to work on our mental health, and make it a positive topic. You’re Important. You’re Loved. You’re Enough.

Antonio Morales Jr - Student

“I look back at the person I was in high school, and there were a lot of tremendous experiences and tragedies that shaped the person I am. The experiences and tragedies I’ve had taught me a lot of things — emotionally, socially, academically, and realistically. Summer Search has also opened up doors for me in those senses.

Ren Perdero - Student

The amount of support I've experienced from my Mentor, Ryan, and the Summer Search community is beyond anything I could imagine. They helped me transition from a kid uneasy about his place in the world to an adult bringing together distinct worlds. My Summer Search community has embraced me for who I am and made me feel like I belong.

Eduardo Fernandez - Alumni

I really enjoyed both the physical activities of backpacking in the mountains and working on service projects with Native American families during my Deer Hill expedition. The highlight of my trip was really discovering these new things I probably would have never seen if I had not gone on this amazing trip. I learned the different skills needed in order to camp in the wilderness, and I also learned about the different cultures of people that live in various parts of the U.S.

Anh - Student

My plane ride to Brown was the first plane ride I’d been on in my life. That was the most challenging. I flew to the opposite side of the U.S., away from my family that I’ve known and grown up with. Away from everything I knew. Away from all my friends. But the beautiful thing about it was I felt so free. I felt like I was finally living. My summer at Brown taught me that it’s ok to be different than your peers. The classroom is a level (playing) field where anyone can shine. Either in-state or out-of-state, I can shine.

Madison - Student

Social responsibility should not be some abstract, unattainable concept. Our social responsibility is rooted in loving each other despite our differences; a seemingly straightforward task that we tend to complicate. I am super excited to meet students from all around the world and gain new perspectives.

ARELI HERNANDEZ - Student

"Avere is awesome, and has been pivotal in shifting our Spring Event to virtual events that have lots of fun in them, and she’s supporting our new sophomores as a group mentor while also continuing the “classic SS” model with her juniors.”

Avere Scurry - Alumna + Staff Mentor

I love Summer Search! It started with my sophomore journey when I went to North Carolina [with North Carolina Outward Bound School – NCOBS] on a backpacking trip. I learned so much from that trip, not just in terms of knotting the knots, building your own camp, backpacking dangers, but also personal growth, grit, and how to keep yourself strong in the face of nature.

Ian Lee - Student

“Summer Search is real. It’s transformative. It’s deep, uncomfortable, and unconditional. It helps you imagine new possibilities, tap into your internal strengths, and achieve incredible things.”

Nathaly - Alumna

This degree is for my family, who are always so sure of my capabilities to excel even when I am unsure of myself. This degree is for my grandmother and father who I know were shining down on me from the clouds, sending me all their love and well wishes as I crossed that stage. This degree is for all the little girls and boys growing up in North Philly, who were told that they would never amount to anything. And last but not least, this degree is for my future students – you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. Don’t let society’s standards be a deciding factor on your success. You are strong, mighty and capable. Your adversities are only a testament to how far you will go.

Chentese - College Graduate

I chose Summer Search because I think everyone should have the right to a great education no matter where they come from and get the support they need. I’m so excited for the next generation of scholars, artists, scientists, and doctors who were able to have these opportunities because of this program!

Gabrielle Richardson - Alumni

I am an immigrant from Mexico who came to this country at five years old, with a younger sister and a single teen mother who never got the chance to finish high school or go to college, so, knowing that I was going to get the chance to go to college and make mine and my mother’s dreams come true was very overwhelming.

Saira Carreto - Student

When you consider the economic disparity, especially in communities of color and immigrant communities, you quickly begin to understand that the only way you can tackle the problem is if you come together as a village. Summer Search students have the talent and the desire, all they need is an opportunity, and Summer Search gives them the opportunity.

Paul Francisco - Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Workforce Development Programs at State Street

The intention of the Young Men’s Initiative is to produce measurable differences in the lives of young men of color in this city. We are proud to be working towards this critical goal with Summer Search, a program that connects leadership, opportunity, experience, and higher education so that these young men can become part of a powerful generation of adults whose courage, leadership, and achievements will positively impact this city and our country.

Cyrus Garrett - Community Partner

I participated in the 24-day ETC (Environmental Training Companions) Youth LEAD course, where I was given a chance to shine along with 13 other students. Before this trip, I just lived day to day without a future, but after spending 24 days with the ETC Youth LEAD School, the path to my future has emerged from the darkness.

Anthony Ng - Marine Engineer

I’ve been given opportunities that many people who come from underrepresented communities simply don’t have access to. Summer Search was a place where I could meet other students who came from a background like mine, and were graduating from college, and succeeding in the types of jobs I wanted for myself. Having those role models and mentors through Summer Search and their Alumni Network has had a great impact in my life.

Rocio Martinez - Alumni

I strike (with Oakland Teachers) because I want a better future — not just for me, but for generations to come! Our hard-working teachers shouldn’t have to worry about how they will put food on their table or a roof over their heads. I’ve lost MULTIPLE amazing teachers because they couldn’t afford to stay in the Bay Area. Many believe that teachers are just asking for a higher pay, but it’s so much more than that. They want what’s best for everyone, especially students. With smaller class sizes, each student will be able to get the help and attention they need. I can’t express how necessary this strike is, and how much teachers need our support.

Jennifer R - Student

I knew that this program was exactly what I needed to give me that extra something that I was missing. I could not imagine then how much more it would give me. Summer Search truly transformed me and the path that I was on. My journey was about finding my voice. When a kid loses as many people as I had (to death) they tend not to have a lot to say. There was a heaviness that I carried with me that I did not know what to do with. Through conversations with my mentors, I was able to slowly regain my confidence. My mentors let me know that my voice had value. They listened to me and it made a world of difference.

Jahlil Davis-Green - Alumni

I was in some of the Class of 2018’s initial interviews for Summer Search and to see them develop their post-secondary visions since 10th grade, push through the obstacles of the application process, and make decisions that fit their futures is such a treat! I’m so proud of them and excited to see all they have in store for the world.

Kaitlin Irvine - Mentor

"Starting my company, Enwoven, a New York Times funded start-up that reimagines how companies capture, organize and weave insights and institutional knowledge to improve everyday operations." Passionate about giving back, especially to Summer Search.

Niles Xi’an Lichtenstein - Alumnus

Altruism for me has meant that I should strive to provide others with the opportunities that have been given to me. Experiences like the ones I went through in Summer Search showed me so much eye-opening beauty about the natural earth, showed me so much about human compassion and understanding absent of a common language and culture. It showed me the toxicity of self-imposed and societal labels. Put simply, Summer Search led me to discover such beauty and hope that I wish others have at least the opportunity to experience the same.

Francisco Rodriguez - Alumni

School for me was very difficult, I would get off track, play around, and not listen. But in my senior year I completely changed myself, going from an all-F student in my junior year to a B and C student this year! I’ve had multiple mentors who guided me along the way and into the path that I believe was most beneficial for me. After high school I am attending a program called YearUp, focusing on my career path of Computer Science.

Jason - Student

Ever since I was young I overworked myself to get to college. There are many things I waited to do and sacrificed to accomplish my goals. Many times people judged me, told me my teeth were ugly so I never smiled, but if there is one thing I can look back at my young self and say I’d be confident and smile more because there is something oh so divine and beautiful within you, that people don’t want you to see and when you find it, oh when you find your #BlackGirlMagic I hope you spread that pixie dust everywhere you go, RUTHLESSLY and UNAPOLOGETICALLY trail blazing a path for the next generation to pick up your pixie dust like bread crumbs… I am proud of myself, my mom would’ve been, I am beautiful, I am strong, I am black excellence!”

Jennessica - College Graduate

I realized quickly that I wanted to do more work with Summer Search and give back to an organization that not only made a difference in my life, but continues to do so for youth in cities across America.” He adds that “It’s a personal belief that anyone that has the drive and work ethic to get where they want to be in life should have the opportunity to do so. Summer Search provides that opportunity.

Jordan Singleton - Alumni

Effective mentoring relationships are two-way streets — something Summer Search understands incredibly well. I’ve had the good fortune of having numerous role models and informal mentors in my life. The lessons I learned from them have been incredibly impactful in my life and I am grateful to have the opportunity to return the favor any chance I get.

Jeff Dorigan - Board Member

“They say it takes a village. This post is dedicated to my village. Without the support of family, friends, mentors, advisors, former teachers, and professors, there is no way that I would have made it through these past four years. Being a first-generation student is an experience like no other – we carry the world on our shoulders and put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect."

Chentese Stewart-Garner - Alumna

Every single one of the Summer Search students I have trained in the Amigos de las Américas core curriculum has so much power. They support each other, build and maintain community, build up their leaders and their peers, have unbelievable communication skills… This summer experience with Amigos is a launching pad for them to literally take their badassness to the world.

Marta Ascherio - Community Partner

On a daily basis, remind yourself that you are not your circumstances. By this I mean that you should not limit yourself because of where you are today, or how far your family and those around you have reached. Life is all about attitude. We all have control over how we look at things. View your obstacles as opportunities and tackle them with a positive attitude. Continue to believe that all things are possible for you, and always seek help from others.

Hermese - Alumni

Attending college has been my goal ever since I was old enough to think concretely about my future. My parents came to the U.S. to pursue better opportunities but have faced many roadblocks on the way and sacrificed a lot so that I wouldn’t face the same barriers. My mentors helped me throughout the process of evaluating financial aid and applying for it, which made Harvard more affordable. I hope to one day pay forward all the sacrifices my parents have made by reaching a position in which I can open the door to others that have been disadvantaged.

Rasmee - Student

Antonio posted a powerful illustration on his Instagram, with the caption: “WE WILL NO LONGER BE SILENCED! This needs to stop. I’m not a killer. I’m not a thug. I’m not a threat. I won’t be treated as such. Respect me as a human.”

Antonio M - Student

“My Summer Search experience helped me transform from a girl with many fears and anxieties to a young woman confident in her abilities to overcome them.”

Elebetel - Student

My senior year did not go as planned. I have struggled with trying to deal with many different things since the start of senior year all the way up until now. All while still maintaining a 3.7 GPA and getting accepted to 25+ colleges and got a scholarship from each one of the schools. Thank you to my friends and family for helping me, motivating me, and guiding me the right way. I decided to major in Forensic and Toxicological Chemistry! Congratulations to everyone in the Class of 2020.

Makayla - Student

“Anyone who’s willing to invest in themselves can succeed in this world, and taking part in a program like Summer Search is a one-way ticket to self-improvement. I feel transformed as if one better human was made in the state of Wyoming over the summer. But growth never ends. Now the tools have been given to me.”

Kevin - Student

10 years ago, I completed a 30-day, 135-mile backpacking expedition across the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. This trip changed my outlook on hard work. Previously, I never would have imagined being able to hike 135 miles. Coming home from the trip, my normal life felt so much easier and less challenging in comparison. Now, working long hours and taking on new responsibilities don’t feel as taxing as before. Now, I use my backpacking course as a standard to push myself harder.

Alvin Sng - Alumni

You can do this. I just straight up want you to walk out of here today knowing you have what it takes to be successful. There is no magic. It’s hard work. Doesn’t mean being perfect. Doesn’t mean you’re not gonna fail a class maybe or get a bad paper. It is about resilience. There is a reason you’re in this room. There’s no reason you can’t finish this. If I can do it, you can do it. I am no different from you all.

Michelle Obama - Community Partner

I learned to love myself and know my worth just by being my own human being. I admit that before being part of Deva Soul Journey, I didn’t love myself or know how much I am actually worth. During the trip, I met some incredible, beautiful women. We did many activities that involved writing down things we loved about ourselves and we uplifted one another when we needed that support. Once I came home, I felt that spark inside me. I love myself now more than I ever have throughout my whole life. I am a beautiful and strong young woman and I know I can do anything I set my mind to. I am worth so much and anyone would be fortunate to have me part of their life. I, Daniela, am a powerful and kind-hearted soul! I learned during my trip that I can do anything, literally anything, I was able to carry so much weight on my back, walk so far, and keep myself safe. This results in me feeling like I can do anything I really want to do, I know I won’t give up. This is actually a powerful message I will carry throughout my whole life because I really thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I did.

Daniela - Student

Everything I’ve learned will help me in the future to become a better leader. It will also help me to take risks and believe in myself when I’m faced with challenges. I look forward to doing more things that I’m afraid of doing now, because I have built more faith in myself.

Shakya Geiger - Student

Summer Search serves students who have the desire and potential to graduate college, but who may not be able to due to under-resourced environments and oppressive systems that promote negative attitudes and beliefs about themselves and their belonging in an academic environment. I was a Summer Search student in high school. They helped me get a passport, gave me travel opportunities, assisted me with college applications and provided mentorship at a time when things at home seemed to be falling apart.

Ebonee Davis - Alumni

I think about my heritage and my family when I think about being a first-gen student. I can honestly say that I never thought that I would live past 18 years old and to be able to attend a prestigious four-year university. It feels like a miracle to me… I wasn’t supposed to make it, but I did! And I thank my family every day for how hard they were on me about my education.

Jay Arzu - Student

I loved being outside and having the opportunity to meet new people in a new environment and having this experience to discover more about myself. I created amazing friendships… created through trust and being able to tell my life story to a bunch of girls my age that I didn’t even know. These are friendships that I never imagined myself having. Throughout this trip I discovered that I have many emotions bottled up and that it was okay that I didn’t have a name for those emotions just yet. But since then I have focused more on me and my feelings and what they are. I’ve already put a name to some of the feelings but not all. All the feelings that have been bottled up for who knows how long were all discovered one evening on a beach a few days after I had shared my life story.

Jennifer - Student

Married to Boston Alumna Rochelly Fajardo Araniz. They have a child together.
Was on the Boston Alumni Board
Pursuing his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at UMass Lowell.
Rochelly is at Suffolk University earning her Master’s in Public Administration

Danny Araniz + Rochelly Fajardo Araniz - Alums

Summer Search is real. It’s transformative. It’s deep, uncomfortable, and unconditional. It helps transform lives and imagine new possibilities for yourself, for those around you, to tap into your internal strengths and achieve incredible things. That is what Summer Search did for me and what it continues to do for hundreds of students.

Nathaly Arriola - Alumni

Right now in America, the zip code a child grows up in is still a better predictor of his or her outcome than an aptitude test. But there are organizations, like Summer Search, that are proving that change is possible, and pointing the way toward a better system.

John Legend - Community Partner

We’re grateful for the leadership and passion of Michelle Obama in creating visibility around college access and supporting all students in getting there, particularly low-income, first-generation-to-college students — she really gets it!

Kaitlin Irvine - Mentor

“Because of Summer Search, my world has expanded, and I see the many possibilities ahead of me.”

Wade - Student

“This [trip] was by far the best experience I could ever have. I didn’t just experience something great, I met amazing people who I consider my friends and even family.”

Aaliyah - Alumna

Summer Search is about changing narratives so that each and every one of us can become our best selves. Imagine a world where every single person gets to be their best selves. Would that not be the best world to live in?

Marie - Admissions and Student Inclusion Counselor

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I’ve lived the experience of the people I hope to help. I’ve seen people come into health centers who can’t afford their treatments not get help. I want to help come up with measures to prevent this from happening so that everyone has access to health care. I’ve also got my home country of Somalia in mind all the time, with all the famines going on, the political discourse, and civil unrest. I want to help not just my people here, but my people abroad.

Mahdi Mohammed - Student

".. I remember these lessons I learned as a Summer Searcher: 1. My voice and feelings are valid, 2. anything I want to do, I can and will accomplish as long as I put the work in and never give-up for myself,.."

De’Ahevon “Dee” Johnson - Alumna

“Summer Search helped me through a lot, you see. I opened up, found my voice, and became the true me.”

Justin - Student

Summer Search has supported my art work and I am thankful for all the years that I have been able to be involved with such a stupendous program. I am very happy to have art as a vehicle through which I am able to stay connected with Summer Search. Giving back and being involved is the best part. I love placing my art in places that make a difference.

Ivan Lopez - Alumni

I have been working with youth for a while, guiding a variety of outdoor programs and haven’t met any young people quite as unique as Summer Searchers. These high schoolers showed tremendous strength as they supported each other, worked together as a team, all while being away from the comforts of their home and their normal support systems. They created a very positive community for each other, and they seemed to have an impactful, meaningful experience.

Jessie Holtz - Alumni

Today I graduated with a B.S.E. in Bioengineering and a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania! After weathering many ups and downs while taking care of my family, and against all the odds as a first-generation, low-income, queer student — I was able to learn not only how to survive for myself and heal, but now I am learning how to thrive. I am so grateful for all the friendships, connections, and mentorships I’ve gained at Penn as I studied to become the best technical problem-solver I can be.

Sandy - College Graduate

After I got into Summer Search, the way I looked at high school was very different. I began to work harder, I got into AP and honors classes, and I became more involved. By senior year, I hit the ground running and applied (to college) everywhere. I worked super hard in my junior year because I knew how much it would mean in the long run. Before I knew it, I was at the top of my class and I feel very, very proud about it.

Shakya Geiger - Student

“It was life-changing because I was on top of my game and I was really living the moment. I don't think I chose Deer Hill, I think that it chose me. I meet new people, I met new friends, I even made family. So I think this was a life-changing experience.”

Luis - Student