WILKES-BARRE — Saturdays haven’t been the same for Nandi Harrington since she’s been coming downtown to the Magnolia Project meeting place.
The Coughlin High School senior spends three hours at the South Main Street storefront where she and other girls have transformed their young lives, gaining self confidence, making friendships and planning for their futures.
The Volunteers of America-run program that started a little more than a year ago provides mentoring for high-school age girls, a support network for academic achievement and teaches them life skills. A $15,000 contribution from AT&T made Thursday will help the program grow.
“I know what I want to do,” Harrington, 17, said to a small group gathered to mark the funding delivered by Joseph Divis of AT&T in the form of an over-sized check.
The funding was part of the AT&T Aspire program that focuses on helping high school students prepare for college and careers. Since 1998, AT&T has committed $350 million to the Aspire program.
Harrington of Wilkes-Barre said she wants to study pre-med and is looking at attending Bloomsburg University or the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Harrington said, adding she participates in community service and looks forward to her one-on-one mentoring sessions. She had no trouble speaking before the dozen people in attendance, including her younger sister, Nikole, a junior a Meyers, who also participates in the program, and credited it to her new found strength and confidence.
Approximately 100 girls from six schools in the county are registered, said Angeline Abraham, program director. It recently expanded into the Hazleton area.
Divis, executive director of external affairs for AT&T’s Mid-Atlantic region, said he was impressed with the program. He encouraged the students to finish high school and continue their educations, either in college or a trade school.
Women play key roles in the telecommunications company, he said, adding 1,000 women inventors received patents for AT&T, one woman holds 130 patents alone and 26,000 women help run the company’s network, he said, adding it’s possible someone from the Magnolia Project could become part of AT&T.
“We are looking to the future,” he said.