Promise Scholarship Fund celebrates 20th anniversary; gala reception thanks donors for record-setting year

The Promise Fund has raised a record-setting $1.7 million and counting during its 20th anniversary year (left to right): Poly Board Chairman Craig G. Matthews, Promise Scholars Jose Reynoso, Judith Cummings and John Fank, President Jerry M. Hultin

Surrounded by the city’s shimmering skyline and breathtaking views of Central Park, Polytechnic celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Promise Fund on May 20 from the perch of the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental.

“Tonight we celebrate one of the most important Polytechnic initiatives of the last 20 years,” said President Jerry M. Hultin who on behalf of the faculty, staff, administrators and students thanked everyone for their contributions to the Promise Fund.

“You are not only PolyThinkers, you are also PolyDoers, and together, we will continue our rich legacy of scientific research and innovative creations that help better the world. These Poly students will be the world’s leading innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs.”

The Promise Fund, Poly’s largest scholarship, is having another record-setting year, raising $1.7 million and counting. Since its inception, the Promise Fund has raised over $17 million to provide scholarships for over 2,000 students and underwrite Polytechnic’s educational outreach programs for inner-city youth.

Judith Cummings, one of over 2,000 Promise Scholars
Judith Cummings, a junior majoring in electrical and computer engineering, took the stage to share her inspirational story of being a Promise Scholar. Ms. Cummings, the second of nine children, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica with her family right before she entered the 11th grade. She graduated high school with honors and was accepted to many universities, but had her heart set on Poly.

“I knew that financing my education was an issue,” Ms. Cummings said. “After all the grants and loans from other sources, [my mother and I] were still short a few thousand dollars. I couldn’t believe it when I was informed that I received the Promise Scholarship. I just had to thank God for His blessings.”

Ms. Cummings has thrived at Poly, managing a demanding course load while participating in many extracurricular activities. She hopes to one day be known as one of the world’s greatest communicators, to be “the next Henry Ford, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey or Susan B. Anthony.”

“But today is not all about my dreams,” she said. “Today, I represent the first generation of college students that you have helped to achieve an education that was seemingly beyond their grasp.”

There are over 2,000 Promise Scholar stories similar to Ms. Cumming’s. Most Promise Fund scholarship recipients are immigrants, from minority groups, or are the first in their families to attend college. Almost half are women, a traditionally underrepresented group in science and engineering.