Mayor Menino, President Aoun welcome new Boston scholars to Northeastern

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun hosted a reception Wednesday for Boston scholars who will be freshmen at Northeastern this fall, including students enrolled in an innovative, new scholarship program for recent high-school graduates and GED recipients.

During the celebration at the Curry Student Center, Aoun and Menino offered encouragement to those in the first class of the Foundation Year Program, which offers rigorous academic and career preparation, as well as tutoring, mentoring and social networking to 40 students.

Describing Northeastern as the “city’s university,” Menino lauded the institution for enrolling more students from Boston’s public schools than any other university.

“This university is going places,” Menino said, noting that it is President Aoun’s visionary leadership that has set the school on course to be an internationally known research institution that also keeps a door open for city youth in need of a chance at higher education.

Menino reminded the students to keep on track. “If someone says there’s a party on Friday night, but you have a paper to do, don’t go,” said the mayor. “Do your paper!”

“Every kid in our Boston public schools has the potential to be anything they want to be,” he added.

Aoun described Menino as the “education mayor” and credited him with the vision to pilot the Foundation Year Program.

Philomena Mantella, senior vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, welcomed the new scholars, saying, “You are at a great university. You have a great opportunity, so make the most of it!”

Students enrolled in other signature scholarship programs—including Balfour Academy Scholars, Boston Housing Authority Scholars, Boston Public High School Scholars, National Merit Finalists, Torch Scholars and Ujima Scholars—joined the new Foundation Year Scholars at the celebratory event.

Lilliam Rivera, of the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science, a resident of Mattapan, said she was thrilled to participate in Foundation Year. “It helped me so much. I don’t think I could have come to Northeastern without it, because I would have to take out a lot of loans,” Rivera said.

As the first member of her family to go to college, she said she plans to make them proud and reach for every opportunity afforded her.

Mission High School graduate Wilson Monteiro, another Foundation Year Scholar, and his mother Graciete, said the opportunity meant a lot to them both.

“This is a chance for me to be enrolled in a great school and it prepares me for the challenges ahead,” Wilson said. His mother added, “It means a lot to me to see my son, who has grown up in Roxbury, go on to college.”

The members of the third class of Torch Scholars, an innovative program open to students all over the country who have overcome exceptional challenges and who demonstrate high academic potential, were equally excited to join the Northeastern family.

Boston Latin Academy senior Vladimir Guerrier said he looks forward to meeting new people, and buckling down to study accounting, a long-held career goal.

Sarah Blanchette of Boston’s Odyssey High School, also a Torch Scholar, said she couldn’t wait to tackle her journalism classes. “I don’t think I could have come to Northeastern without this scholarship,” she said.