Roosevelt High School senior Roberta Samson, 17, attends her prom...

Roosevelt High School senior Roberta Samson, 17, attends her prom at Jericho Terrace in Mineola on Thursday, June 19, 2014 after receiving a free prom makeover from the not-for-profit Women of Integrity Inc. Credit: Tara Conry

Roosevelt High School senior Roberta Samson wore a red, fitted lace gown to her prom Thursday night at Mineola’s Jericho Terrace. But if not for the generosity of strangers, she said the expenses of prom would have put her family “in the red” instead.

“My dad said I still would have went, but I know we would have struggled afterward, because we’re not good financially at all,” said Samson, 17, who was born in Haiti but now lives in Roosevelt with her dad.

Women of Integrity Inc., a nonprofit based in Hempstead, chose Samson to be this year’s recipient of a free prom makeover, complete with a dress, shoes, jewelry and “glam squad,” who did her hair, nails and makeup. Members of the group met at Samson’s house Thursday before the prom to see the final stages of her transformation and see her off.

“It’s ‘Princess Diaries' Day,” she said. “I’m being treated like a princess. It feels really great.”

Shantay Carter, founder of Women of Integrity Inc., said her group works with Vivian Isom, a Roosevelt High School teacher and founder of “Resolutions,” an after-school girls mentoring club, to select a senior who is deserving of the makeover.

Carter said the student must perform well in school, provide two teacher references and have a financial need.

“Every girl deserves to go to prom, especially if they do well in school,” said Carter, whose organization also runs an annual prom dress drive for local teens. “Roberta was very deserving.”

Samson said she is graduating in the top 10 of her class, an accomplishment she is particularly proud of given the fact that when she moved to the United States nine years ago, she didn’t speak any English.

“It wasn’t easy at all,” she said. “But I’m a fast learner.”

In the fall, she will attend Fredonia University on a partial scholarship to study accounting, with the goal of becoming a certified public accountant.

“I’m very, very proud,” said her father, Emmanuel Samson. “She’s very hardworking … she likes school, [and] wants to become something in this country.”

With her prom expenses covered, she said she can now use that money toward her education.

“When they send the list out of all the books and supplies I’m going to need,” she said, “I will be financially ready.”


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