CUNY has provided a High School Equivalency Preparation Program at 14 of its campuses for more than 30 years, offering a crucial pathway into higher education and new and better forms of employment for thousands of underserved New York City residents.  The program provides a second chance to earn a high school credential to out-of-school youth and adults whose life circumstances–ranging from family crises to the need to drop out of school and work to prior learning difficulties– have resulted in an interruption of their high school education. The program serves native New Yorkers and immigrants alike, many of whom first had to learn to read and write in English, and all of whom recognize that earning their high school equivalency diploma is the key to opening the door to a more secure future for themselves and their families.

To honor a small group of talented and ambitious CUNY High School Equivalency graduates and to help defray the costs of higher education, the Peter Jennings Laurel Award Scholarship now in its 16th year awards a $1,500 scholarship to twelve graduates who will be enrolled in CUNY as freshman students.  The scholarship was named for Peter Jennings, himself a high school dropout, who spoke with admiration for the achievements of the graduates each year until his death.  His wife, Kayce Freed Jennings, continues to participate in the annual ceremony, which speaks of the individual life stories of the graduates and of their promise for successful college study and a career.  The stories tell of the students’ extraordinary efforts to prepare for the demanding High School Equivalency Exam while juggling adult lives of parenting and working often more than one job, and of their immense pride in earning their diploma.

Recipients are honored each year at a ceremony for honored guests, friends, families, and teachers.

  • As of 2017, there have been over 150 Scholarship winners, which awards amount to over $160,000.
  • As of Spring 2017,  a total of 91 college degrees have been earned by previous scholarship winners, while 49 of them are still attending college.

We salute the 2018 Award Recipients!

  • Brittany Brown from the City College of New York’s Continuing and Professional Studies Program who now attends the Borough of Manhattan Community College
  • Guadalupe Cuenca from the College of Staten Island’s Adult Learning Center who now attends the College of Staten Island
  • Satya Garcia from the Brooklyn College Adult Literacy Program who now attends the Borough of Manhattan Community College
  • Gniyah Larkins from the Medgar Evers College Adult Literacy Center who will attend Medgar Evers College
  • Edwin Lopez from the Bronx Community College Adult Education and Training Program who will attend Bronx Community College
  • Mia Nicer from LaGuardia Community College’s Adult Basic Skills Program who now attends LaGuardia Community College
  • Mimose Noel from the York College Learning Center who will attend York College
  • Sarahpraise Oki from the Borough of Community College Adult Basic Education Program who will attend the Borough of Manhattan Community College
  • Sakina Roberts from the York College Learning Center who will attend Medgar Evers College
  • Chafane Robinson from the Hostos Community College Adult Learning Center who will attend Hostos Community College
  • Walid Saleh from the Lehman College Adult Learning Center who attends Bronx Community College
  • Tenzing Tamang from the New York City College of Technology’s Adult Literacy Program who attends Brooklyn College

To help honor the hard work, sacrifice and accomplishments of our award recipients, each Peter Jennings Scholarship Award Ceremony features a keynote address.

Previous Keynote Speakers have included:

  • Dr. John B. King, Jr. (the Commissioner of Education for NY State at the time and later the United States Secretary of Education)
  • CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken
  • Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
  • CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Vita Rabinowitz
  • Director of Adult Education and Literacy for the US Department of Education Cheryl Keenan
  • NYS Deputy Commissioner for Adult Education and Workforce Development Kevin Smith
  • President of Kingsborough Community College/CUNY Regina Peruggi

Watch Past CUNY Peter Jennings Laurel Award Scholarship Ceremonies