Summer on the Hill Class of 2003
High School Attended: Dewitt Clinton High School
Undergraduate College/University: Hunter College majored in English
David is an Account Executive for Bulk and Hospitality in Domestic Network Distribution currently working at HBO. Some of his interests are strength training, spoken word, basketball, movies and writing.
Read his interview below!
What was your admissions process to Summer on the Hill like?
Although the process was over twenty years ago, I won't ever forget the feelings I had throughout. In the beginning, I was chosen from my 2nd Grade classroom to take a test which determined my eligibility. That, alone, was a big deal and I remember feeling quite proud to be selected. Once I actually saw the campus, though, it was literally like walking through the gates of heaven. The Horace Mann campus was far different than the public school I attended. There were grass and trees everywhere- swimming pools, and tennis courts! I was amazed. What really impressed me, though, was the myriad of students around me that were just like me: gifted urban youth with a passion for learning. I knew then this was a program where I wanted to be. I know now this was a program where I needed to be.
Was there a particular teacher or administrator who stands out for you?
Without a doubt, Mrs. Julia Baez-Veliz. I'm sure everyone who had the pleasure of being a student of hers would agree that she made such an incredible impact on their lives. She far exceeded her expectations as a teacher by going above and beyond to show that she genuinely cared for her students. One moment in particular will always stand out to me. My mother was running late to pick me up (in retrospect, it was only about 10-15 minutes, but as a child, it felt like forever!) and I was sitting and waiting for her to arrive. Mrs. Baez came, sat with me, and just spoke with me until my mom came. It was a small gesture that she may not even remember but, to me, it meant the world. Mrs. Baez cared about her students, she cared about her work, and she cared about the program. It was once said that "a good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning." Mrs. Baez did all of that and more. If you ask me, and I'm sure any of my peers, there is no memory of Summer on the Hill that isn't coupled with a fond memory of Mrs. Julia Baez-Veliz.
What would your adult self tell your young self about taking a leap of faith with Summer on the Hill?
Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity! Summer on the Hill will open more doors for you than you can ever imagine. I know walking up that hill every day during the summer seems treacherous. I know waking up early on Saturday mornings to go to class while your friends are able to sleep and play video games seems terrible. I know dedicating your Saturdays and your summers to tackling work far more difficult than what you're doing in school seems like a huge sacrifice. But it's not. Not only will you not regret it, but sooner than you know, you'll realize this was one of the best things you could have ever done to set yourself up for almost inevitable success in the future.
What is your favorite memory at Summer on the Hill?
The Musical Theater program, by far. I developed such a passion for the theater because of the countless shows and performances we did every year. From "The King and I", to "Oklahoma", to "Who's on First?", I was exposed to theater in a way I had never been and, arguably, would never have been if not for this program. Public speaking is a huge part of what I do in my career and I know many of the skills I fostered in SOH's Musical Theater program can be attributed to my growth in that respect. And, to this very day, I love going to watch Broadway shows!
What advice would you give current Summer on the Hill students?
Keep Going! The experiences you will have, the people you will meet, and the opportunities that will open for you are ones that will continue to shape your life for years to come. It was once said that "Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship". It won't be always be easy...but it will make you better. And that's the point.
Anything else you would like to tell us?
As an alumni of Summer on the Hill, I am deeply humbled and eternally grateful to have had the privilege of being offered the opportunity. More often than not, the only thing that separates the "successful" from the "unsuccessful" is a lack of opportunity. Summer on the Hill helps to bridge that gap.