WXXI AM News

Empower Me Tour Inspires College-Bound Rochester Students to Follow Their Dreams

Nov 14, 2016

Sporting a collared shirt, navy blue necktie, and a bright smile, Noah Tavolino walked into the Empower Me Tour at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Monday. Like the many high schoolers in attendance he is anticipating the college years, and was hoping to obtain a scholarship from one of the recruiters inside.

Noah Tavolino (left) attended the Empower Me Tour in Rochester with classmate, Deiquon Turner.
Credit SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

Tavolino, a senior at Northeast College Prep High School, is the oldest of four children. He said his parents have made their expectations for his future clear.

“This is setting a good example for my siblings,” Tavolino said.

United Negro College Fund hosts the nationwide tour, created to inspire students of color to pursue a four-year college degree and graduate. More than 1,200 students, some of whom travelled from Buffalo and Syracuse, spent the day taking part in admissions and financial aid workshops, and learning from motivational speakers.

Participants also lined up to talk with recruiters from some of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. Mayor Lovely Warren said many students will be offered on-site admissions and four-year academic scholarships, similar to last year’s event which gave away $1.5 million to Rochester students. She said the tour also reinforces the importance of education.

“There’s always a first to accomplish the dream and if they stick with it, if they’re passionate about it, and committed to their dream, then they can achieve whatever it is they want to achieve,” Warren said.

Tavolino wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and enroll in both business and interior design courses. He hasn’t decided where he wants to go to college, but is eyeing schools in Florida. 

Students attend the Empower Me Tour in Rochester, NY.
Credit SASHA-ANN SIMONS/ WXXI NEWS

“I just want to remodel houses, own houses, take houses that really don’t have no value to them and put value to them,” he said.

Students of color make up almost 90 percent of students in the Rochester City School District. The Empower Tour aims to remove barriers and transform the lives of families unable to see a path to college.