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When I was invited to help highly motivated young people get to college, I was immediately interested, particularly when I found out that these kids came from families who did not have the money to send them to a four year college, and the majority of these youngsters would be the first in the family to go to college. 

The Executive Director introduced me to one of the students enrolled in The Extra Dimension, Florainne Walcott-Taylor, who was a junior at that time from Lake Highlands High School. She had a look about her that said she was serious about going to a really good college. Florainne was very clear about what she wanted out of life since her pathway to success was almost derailed by circumstances beyond her control. Born in Sierra Leone, she and her mother emigrated to the U.S. when she was three years old. At first they stayed with her Uncle who could only afford to have them stay in a tiny room in a Brooklyn tenement. They had blankets but no furniture. Her mother, who is a true heroine in this story, was determined to build a better life for both of them and started to take courses in the health field. They traveled to Dallas and Mom continued to gain more experience by continuing her education and worked her way to becoming an LVN at Baylor Hospital in Garland.

Florainne immediately became immersed in her studies, appeared in several school plays and musicals, thrived in her English classes, was voted Vice President of her Class and took 8 AP classes. She took advantage of the mentoring and tutoring The Extra Dimension offered her and ended up with a cumulative 94 average and a 29 on the ACT. 

When I heard her story I was blown away with this girl’s courage and determination. To help Florainne and the other students in their quest to go a really fine college is one of the best feelings I have ever had. What is even more thrilling is the fact that Florainne, Olga and Sam are going to live out their dream. The list of colleges that have accepted them, and offered them sizable financial support, including prestigious scholarships, is extraordinary. 

These young people are beautiful, courageous and talented and they deserve every good thing that comes their way in the future. It has been my honor to have played a small part in this success story.

Allen Lewis Pusch
Rancho Mirage, CA