By LaKeisha Harris

Nine students enrolled in the Pathway to College program traveled to New York City in April for college tours, and got to meet inspirational people. It was eye-opening for students who never left Oakland before.

PTC student Kahmaria Adams, said, “Overall, it was unforgettable, exciting, and nerve wracking trip.” The NYC trip was her first time flying. Another student, Rajan’ee Williams, who was also flying for the first time, said, “It was amazing, an eye opener, and it was encouraging/ inspiring.”

Pathway to College students are a group of Bay Area high schoolers that have goals to go to college to pursue their dreams. This group meets weekly at the East Oakland Youth Development Center to discuss different topics.

From April 23 to April 28, the students travelled to Times Square, Columbia University, NYU, Essence magazine, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, Good Morning America, DKNY and the United Nations in NYC.

At everyplace the students went to, they heard a lecture and asked questions.

“Your net worth is your network,” said Khloe Williams, Essence Magazine media communications director. Williams spoke to the youth, inspiring them to never forget who they work with, and to always follow their dreams.

Felita Harris vice president of Donna Karan told the youth “never burn your bridges” because you never know who your family or friends know. It inspired the youth to do better at making good choices, and keep their friends.

Jasmine Thompson, Coordinator for Pathway to College, said, “It’s important for students to go on college tours because for some people it’s their first time out of California, first time flying, and it opened their eyes. It’s a cultural shock because the youth gets to see stuff in New York that they wouldn’t see in California.”

Jacienda Palmerpascel, a staff assistant in the Pathway to College program, said, “It’s also important to expose them to colleges outside of California, and for the youth to learn things they wouldn’t learn in any other way.”

Donna Karan told us not to stress and relax. She said, “When you wear clothes, make sure you feel good inside because clothes can’t make you happy only the inside can.”

Overall, the youth felt stronger and that many people gave them good advice.


This story and the entire Education Voices series were made possible through the support of The California Endowment. Our student reporters for this series are participants in programs at The East Oakland Youth Development Center in East Oakland. Many thanks to the Endowment and the Center for the support of this program, and to our wonderful coaches, trainers and student reporters.

Follow the entire series here:

About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local ( a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

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