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College-bound LI students and parents get help at Teen Summit

Darleen Morgan of Greenlawn and her daughter Jaida,

Darleen Morgan of Greenlawn and her daughter Jaida, 15, attend Jack and Jill's ninth annual Teen Leadership Summit at Adelphi University in Garden City on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Amy Evans was furiously taking notes as an Adelphi University administrator Saturday gave dozens of parents advice on how to help their children choose the right college to attend.

“This is an eye-opener for me,” said Evans, 43, of Central Islip.

Evans was at the ninth annual Teen Leadership Summit, organized by the Nassau County chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., a nonprofit that works to improve educational opportunities for black families.

Most of the nearly 300 people who attended the conference were high school students, but more than 80 were parents. Jack and Jill expanded its parent workshops this year, said chapter president Sharon Hoskins.

“The parents are the driving force behind the teens,” Hoskins said. “In order for them to be fully supportive of the students, we need to make sure they are aboard and understanding what resources are available.”

Evans has struggled financially in recent years, including a stay in a shelter, and she wants to get as much information about college as possible to help her daughter Chanssey, 17, a senior at Central Islip High School, succeed.

“I don’t want her to go through what I went through,” Evans said.

Evans was excited Saturday to learn of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for families earning up to $100,000 a year, a cap that would rise to $125,000 by 2019. She doesn’t want Chanssey to be saddled with years of student loan debt like Chanssey’s older sister.

Sonja Richardson, 44, of Freeport, was relieved to hear of the proposal, which faces an uncertain path in the Legislature.

“It would help immensely,” said Richardson, whose 14- and 15-year-old sons also were at the summit. “How am I going to afford to send two boys to college at the same time? I’ve been saving since they were born, but I don’t think that will really put a dent in what I need.”

The summit was open to all, but the large majority of the students and presenters — which included educators, business people and attorneys — were African-American.

Sydney Walker, 14, of Hempstead, said she enjoyed being surrounded by other college-bound black students and learning from successful black professionals.

“This is inspiring,” said Sydney, a ninth-grader at Friends Academy in Locust Valley.

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