An Ambassador for Education
When Dan Rowe ’12 speaks to New Jersey middle school students about the benefits of pursuing an independent school education, he is more than just a recruiter for the Wight Foundation. He is also living proof of just what the program can do.
Rowe himself was a public-school kid growing up in East Orange, New Jersey, when he applied and was accepted to the Wight Foundation, a Newark-based nonprofit that tutors and guides low-income students through the private school application process. After successfully completing the 11-month enrichment program, he began researching and touring independent schools, and discovered Williston. “When I got there, it was cold and rainy, but my mom loved it,” he recalls. “Then I came back in the spring, and I was like, ‘This is the place for me.’ From day one to the last day, it was the right decision.”
Though he had applied to numerous schools, Williston’s welcoming community—combined with a strong financial aid package—made the difference. “My first year, my award was excellent, and it got better each year,” he says. “And that was a great feeling, because I knew my mom was happy.”
Rowe soon was excelling at football (as well as at basketball and track), earning First-Team All-New England and First-Team All-Colonial League honors in his junior and senior seasons, and receiving the George Denman Award as the top male athlete in his graduating class. After Williston, he continued to shine as a defensive safety for Division 1 University of New Hampshire, where he majored in sports studies and kinesiology. Two weeks before he graduated, he got a job offer from the Wight Foundation. Dan saw it as a way to both help others and to give back to an organization that had given him so much.
“They gave me an opportunity to stand out and show my talents to a lot of schools,” he says. And now, he gets to encourage others to take that same chance on themselves. “Young men in the community are not really focused on academics,” he says. “To get a solid pool, especially of African American young men, is very tough. When I go out into the community, the young boys see someone they can relate to and see that it can be done.”
Dan’s work today requires the ability to connect with others and build relationships, “and I got that from Williston,” he says. “I love to see a young person grow with care in a great environment because that’s what Williston did for me every day for four years.”