Pharrell Williams offers internships to 114 Harlem high school graduates
While graduating high school marks a major milestone in any teenager's life, it also comes with a handful of impending dreads. Paying off student loans, gaining professional experience and struggling to fit in at college all loom in graduates' minds as they cross the stage to receive their diplomas.
This year, Pharrell Williams lightened the load on some Harlem grads. The rapper/songwriter/producer promised a foot in the door to recent high school seniors following their freshman year of college. During his keynote speech at Promise Academy's two charter high schools, Pharrell said that all 114 students - 100 percent of who had been accepted to college - would get "A-list internships" after their first year at university.
In his speech on June 26, Pharrell said:
"The world is watching Harlem, but this renaissance will be different. Believe it or not ... it's going to actually be better. The reason why is because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core."
The Harlem Children's Zone runs the two charter schools. The organization works to support young adults in the New York City neighborhood to and through college. Anne Williams-Isom, CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, tweeted a photo of Pharrell with the graduating class with a caption thanking him for "urging them to be leaders for justice and change in the world."
Brionna Pope, one of the graduates who will be a Syracuse University freshman in the fall, told CNN that she was relieved by the news:
"A lot of us who were financially struggling ... to at least know we had a head start in life because next summer we would be able to get internships and make connections.
"My school targets (students) that are financially struggling. I currently have a struggling single mother who is trying to pay for my student loans for Syracuse."
Today, Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loans, as growing college debt continues to be a prevalent issue - and black students are more likely than others to take out these loans, CNN reports.
While there is no further detail on the promised internships, Pope and her classmates are excited to have the opportunity to keep moving forward. Cheers to the class of 2019!