As a first-generation college student, I was unaware of what to expect in college. Having a mentor who went through college helped me survive my first year.
— Amy Chen

Attending: Juniata College
Award Use: Tuition
Travel Stipend Use: Generation Progress event

A non-native English speaker who came to Science Leadership Academy (SLA) from a middle school she described as a place where "teachers didn't care, didn't tell you what to do, didn't care if you skipped," Amy quickly assessed SLA's expectations and discovered the administration and teachers were demanding, but they were rooting for her, too.

She thrived in this environment and soon found herself with a founding seat on Superintendent Hite's student advisory council, a member of the Philadelphia Youth Commission, and collaborating with CeaseFire to host an anti-gun violence summit. She managed these responsibilities while also carrying excellent grades, playing Frisbee and soccer, recovering from a concussion her junior year, and helping her family in her position as eldest of four and as language and cultural translator for her mother. 

Amy's demonstration of preparation, persistence, and resilience made her an obvious choice for our award. On May 28, 2015 she became our inaugural "girl with grit." 

She hopes to pursue a career in politics after graduating from Juniata.

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook covered Amy's story. Read the article.

Photo by Conrad Benner / Streets Dept