MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Students from Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood had high hopes on Thursday as they heard from Harvard graduates, who just like them, once sat in classrooms at Miami Northwestern Senior High.
“I grew up in the housing projects here in Liberty City that my parents had no money to be able to pay for college but because I put my head down and did what I needed to do, I was able to go to Brown for undergrad and then on to Harvard Law School,” said Harvard Law Grad Zarifa Brown-Reynolds.
Zarifa Brown-Reynolds now practices corporate law. She was back Thursday to tell students they too can have successful careers.
Another Miami Northwestern and Harvard graduate, Shante Butler wants students in urban areas to know Ivy League schools aren’t out of their reach.
“Ivy League schools have this reputation of being a place only for students who go to private preparatory schools and not a place for low-income students,” said Harvard grad Shante Butler.
Joining the successful graduates was Harvard President Drew Faust who toured the school’s campus and met with students.
“First you have to believe in yourself and you have to say, ‘ I am going to college,'” Faust told students.
Faust is the first woman president of Harvard. She grew up in the 50s and 60s and says she understands how minorities may feel excluded, but Miami Northwestern already has a tradition of inclusion.
“This school has been a wonderful example in its commitment to a college education for its students,” said Faust.
While this is the first time a Harvard president visits Miami Northwestern, the local alumni chapter visits regularly.