Morristown, N.J. (October 14, 2015) – Attending college is not always within reach, either financially or emotionally, for a number of young people. Oasis, located in Paterson, is an organization that changes this with a program that focuses on young women and their quest for higher education. One of these young women is Jennifer Lindo '19, a freshman at CSE and an Oasis alumna.
Jennifer grew up in Paterson, N.J. with her brother John, and Gladys, her single mom. Attending classes at Oasis for English and her G.E.D., Gladys often had Jennifer and John in tow. Jennifer attended the after-school programs and the summer camps until she was 13 years old. After she "aged out," the Oasis youth development program director asked her to volunteer in the after-school program.
Oasis is concerned about keeping teens off the streets and involved in school and recreation. The youth development program director gently, but firmly, involved her in the teen program where she was expected to bring up her grades. She was given leadership training in a summer camp and developed a good reputation while working in the day care center.
Fast forward a couple of years. Jennifer is asked to speak about her Oasis experiences at a fundraiser. There she met Walter Ginsberg, an Oasis volunteer who was developing a program to attract young women to Oasis to consider higher education as a viable alternative. As a high school senior, Jennifer had considered going into the military because, "I did not have the confidence to try college." Ginsberg gave her the tools to navigate the admission process and involved her family to help them also understand the process. Jennifer graduated high school on the honor roll.
"I am glad I had the experience with Walter, even though I really was not sure I could do this," says Jennifer on the CSE campus. "I want to experience college life, develop my independence and become a special education teacher," she explains. "Now that I know I can do this and I want to be a model for other teens who may be doubting their potential to go to college. CSE has a family feeling so I never feel alone."
Oasis was started in a church basement in 1997 to provide meals to women and children living in poverty. The program grew through word of mouth to what is now a place for adult education, after-school programming, summer camps, enrichment programs, day care, and social services for women's and family issues.
CSE Board Member Beth Renyi participated in its founding, and while she is no longer with Oasis, she fondly says of the organization, "The women who participate in the program are just wonderful; they struggle with their families and do everything they can to keep their families happy and healthy."
Just after the beginning of the fall 2015 term, a surprise visitor came to look in on Jennifer. Retired Giants running back, Joe Morris, who was on the team when they won Super Bowl XXIV, came to campus with a Giants Super Bowl jersey and words of encouragement. "You can do this," he told Jennifer. "If you believe it, it will happen for you."