In June, the Daily News profiled 18-year-old Jamaican immigrant Orayne Williams, who was graduating from the Bedford Academy in Brooklyn with a 91 average and a one-year scholarship to a community college upstate, even though he was kicked out of his apartment by his mother and had been living in a homeless shelter for the past year. The News' readers were touched, offering help, and one of those readers happened to be Manhattanville College President Molly Easo Smith. Now the Purchase, NY college is giving him a four-year scholarship!
Williams grew up in poverty in Kingston, Jamaica. His mother sent him to Florida at age 12 with "only the clothes on his back. He was taken in by relatives who he says abused him and dealt drugs." When he reunited with his mother and an infant half-sister in 2007, they lived in NYC shelters. Last year, they were fighting so badly that his mother kicked him out. (A social worker placed him in a Williamsburg shelter for young men.) Williams, who took AP classes at Bedford Academy, said he looking forward to higher education, "I've been through hell. School is my way out."
Smith told the News, "His hunger for education really meant something to me. It touched a nerve." Smith encouraged Williams to apply and recently found out there was enough money for Manhattanville to cover his schooling, boarding, and other expenses—about $47,000 a year. He is headed to Purchase, but knows he'll miss Brooklyn,"but I'll be back. Life is just taking its course."