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Dearborn students offered spots at BFIT

Anna Lamb
Dearborn students offered spots at BFIT
Mayor Michelle Wu joins staff and seniors of the Dearborn STEM Academy as it is announced that all graduating seniors have been accepted to the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology for the 22-23 year. PHOTO: ISABEL LEON, MAYOR’S OFFICE

College admissions season is daunting for any student considering higher education after high school. For seniors at Roxbury’s Dearborn STEM Academy, it just got a little easier.

In an announcement last week, administrators from the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology announced that every member of the 2022 graduating class are admitted to BFIT for the fall 2022 term.

“We believe that this group of students who had half of their high school education interrupted by a pandemic of epic proportions deserves us to meet them more than halfway in terms of them fulfilling their dreams and expectations of post secondary education,” said Dr. Aisha Francis, president and CEO of BFIT. “That next step after high school can be unnecessarily complicated to navigate. And it can seem daunting. So our idea was to take all of that complication away.”

Students who want to be part of the inaugural pilot program will have the opportunity to enroll in one of 12 STEM-based majors offered by BFIT upon completion of their degree. However, the experience is not free.

To pay for the program, students complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA application), and a special grant program set up to support the Dearborn graduates choosing BFIT will fill in any gaps not paid for by loans, scholarships or federal grants.

According to the Boston Globe, the average semester tuition at BFIT was $8,475.

Jesse Soloman, executive director of Boston Plan for Excellence, the educational organization that oversees the Dearborn, said that individual donors and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts have made contributions to support students.

“We’ve combined those [donations] to create essentially a last dollar scholarship fund,” he said. “So basically kids will apply, everyone fills out the FAFSA, you get your Pell Grant, sometimes there’s other aid and then basically what last dollar does is just fills in the gap.”

The contribution on behalf of BECMA is over $100,000 to ensure any student that wants to, can attend BFIT this fall.

“One of our pillars for helping to close the racial wealth gap here in Massachusetts is around placing students like you into the highly skilled workforce,” Nicole Obi, BECMA’s executive director said.

Students will have an opportunity to meet with support staff from BFIT in coming months to fill out any forms necessary.

Friday’s announcement came with another surprise — in addition to admission, students will also have the opportunity to nominate a family member over the age of 19 to be admitted to BFIT.

“Extending this offer to a member of their family will lead to career opportunities and economic stability at a two-generational level,” Francis said.

Dearborn is a Boston Public School specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and a BPE Teaching Academy serving grades 6-12. Located in Roxbury, the school serves a population of students overwhelmingly Black and other students of color.

In 2018, its current $73 million dollar school building opened, complete with state-of-the-art classrooms.

Many of the students who received the news seemed excited. One young woman said that the opportunity is giving her a renewed sense of motivation to finish the school year strong, and to pursue a college education.

“I feel more motivated for like college and stuff and like high school in general and after high school,” said Dearborn senior Niaysa Hill.

Congratulating students Friday was Mayor Michelle Wu, who told those gathered, “if there’s anything that I want our administration to be known by, is that our young people should be the citywide priority.”

Others in attendance included state Rep. Nika Elugardo, state Rep. Liz Miranda, and state Rep. Chynah Tyler.

BFIT, Dearborn STEM Academy, STEM