Davawn Hartz Receives Six Acceptance Letters, Credits Sponsor-A-Scholar
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Davawn Hartz has a very tough decision to make.
The 18-year-old senior from Saratoga Springs High School and Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar participant has waited anxiously for weeks since sending off his college applications, but he didn’t expect this – Hartz has been accepted by every single one, including two Ivy League schools.
Hartz is six for six on his journey toward higher education. He received acceptance letters from Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Swarthmore College, Syracuse University and Williams College.
“I didn’t expect the return on any of them…it’s weird, it’s crazy,” said Hartz. “I’m really lucky.”
Hartz says college was never a big discussion at the dinner table and while his family understood the importance of a college education, they didn’t necessarily stress high-performance in the classroom. Hartz took the initiative to take challenging courses and did well in them, which caught the attention of Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar.
“He’s got a unique combination of intelligence, personality and a willingness to do community service,” said Jim LaVigne, Executive Director of Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar. “He’s the total package.”
SSAS, now in its eighth year, prepares 10 Saratoga Springs High School sophomores who are financially in need of assistance by supplying additional support and direction to help them meet their goals and enter college. Since its creation, more than 50 students have been accepted into the SSAS program and more than half of them have started a college career – an opportunity many nearly dismissed as an impossibility prior to the program.
Hartz’s success with SSAS adds to the program’s repertoire.
“We have three kids in the program who will be attending Skidmore and we have graduates in MIT, St. Lawrence and other good schools, but nobody has rung the bell like this boy,” said LaVigne.
Unlike scholarships and grants, SSAS begins during a student’s sophomore year in high school and works to reinforce a base of academic achievement during the next three years by providing resources to its participants through the help of volunteer mentors, academic tutors, the program's board members and two of Saratoga High School’s guidance counselors.
If students are accepted into the program, they sign a contract to meet specific requirements during the term of the program. They are to meet with their mentor once a month, maintain their grades above 80 or attend tutoring, have a productive summer, behave in a manner consistent with the standards of SSAS, and attend mandatory weekly study skills programs.
“It’s a nice safety measure because you know they’re there to support you, but they’re not going to do the work for you. You’re responsible for your grades, extracurricular activities and community service,” said Hartz.
In return, SSAS dedicates $10,000 to "each scholar's enrichment" - $4,000 during their last three years of high school for supplies, study skill seminars, tutoring, PSAT and SAT training and entrance fees, seminars on the college application and scholarship process, college visits and attendance to cultural events; and $1,500 is dedicated to each scholar for each year they successfully complete in college.
But before Hartz can continue on his college journey, he first needs to make a decision. He’s currently planning visits to Columbia and Williams and says he’s interested in creative writing and theatre – from a behind-the-scenes aspect, such as playwriting and production.
Hartz has to make a decision by May 1.
"It's a tough decision to make and I feel spoiled saying that," said Hartz. "They're all amazing schools. I'm just flattered that they consider me to be on par with the students that go there."