Saraphina Bernard, who came to American from Haiti just three years ago, and loves science, had a beautiful smile on her face, on Saturday, May 14, the same smile she wants to see on the faces of her clients, after she graduates with a degree in dentistry.
The 17-year-old said she wanted to look pretty at her prom, and chose a pink Cinderella-style gown from the hundreds of designs donated to Senator Kevin D. Parker’s 9th Annual Free Prom Dress Giveaway that was held on the Samuel J. Tilden High School Campus, in Brooklyn.
Like her counterpart, 17-year-old Tiffany King will head off to the University of Bridgetown to study medicine. She wants to become a gynecologist. She picked out a pretty red dress with matching stilettos.
King wants to fulfill her passion to help women around the world and as such will complete her studies in medicine. She did not only want a pretty dress for her prom, but also to support Senator Parker’s yearly initiative.
“Prom dresses are very expensive, especially if a student is heading off to college and has to pay tuition, so this is a great option,” said Cheyanne Nemley, a graduate of the High School for Law Enforcement, who will attend Monona University to study psychology.
These young women were not only eager to select prom dresses, but excited about going to college. Thanks to Senator Kevin Parker, whose program helped to pack the school campus with students who were also treated to makeup tips, accessories and gifts to enjoy the prom before heading off to higher education.
Senator Parker told this publication that the prom is a right of passage for young people, especially young women in his district who received free dresses. However, the affordability to attend the prom is rising, he added and dresses cost upwards of $400 that families spend to send their kids to the prom.
As such, he began the program nine years ago to help families cut cost so that their children could attend this important event.
With important partners such as Lydia’s Closet, Macy’s Department Store, and the Gap, more than 600 dresses were available to choose from, said Senator Parker who also ensured that the students received handbags, hair and makeup tips, accessories and an opportunity to win other prizes through a raffle.
“The initiative is to promote the prom as a safe event, and to also show students the proper way to celebrate in an organized way,” said Senator Parker of the 21st Senate District in Brooklyn.
Through media partner, WLIB Radio, Senator Parker did a public service announcement that reached hundreds of students who packed the school from noon, to 3 pm. They left with bags loaded with items to get them ready for their big day.
The politician said his office stay in touch with many of the students after they graduate. Some return to support the program, even donating dresses to benefit new students.
“Young people are 100 percent of our future and it is important to engage them. This is just one of the ways to do so. Every September we share out backpacks with young children. Small scholarships are also presented to students,” said Senator Parker, adding that he finds many ways to engross youth outside of his work in Albany.
“This year I am very proud that we were able to freeze tuition for students of SUNY and CUNY. This was an important part of the budget, that was approved,” he added.