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‘Promise Academy Had Dreams for Us’: Charter Schools Graduate Builds Career as Veterinary Nurse

HCZ Promise Academy graduate Tiffany Gallegos wearing a white shit works at zoo with animals.

Applying to college is a stressful time for anyone. But it can be especially stressful when the process is entirely unfamiliar to you. 

That was the spot Tiffany Gallegos found herself in during her junior year at Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) Promise Academy Charter Schools.

“The college application process was tough,” Tiffany recalls. “A lot of the scholars had parents who didn’t go to college. We didn’t know how it all worked.”

Fortunately, as an HCZ Promise Academy scholar, Tiffany got the support she needed to own the application process. Now a college graduate, she’s building a promising career as a licensed veterinary nurse.

We are so proud of Tiffany. She is a shining example of what happens when you connect talent with opportunity, when you connect a promising young scholar with an entire community of support.

Follow Tiffany’s journey:

Every step of the way

Tiffany’s HCZ journey began at HCZ Promise Academy, where she was a member of the charter school’s first graduating class. 

“The majority of my day, really my life, was at Promise Academy,” she recalls. “I went to school from 8 AM to 4 PM. Then I went to after school from 4 to 6 PM, sometimes later.”

HCZ Promise Academy Charter Schools graduate Tiffany Gallegos at her internship at Central Park.
Geoffrey Canada in black suit with Tiffany Gallegos in blue graduation cap and gown.
HCZ Promise Academy Charter Schools graduate Tiffany Gallegos meets President Barack Obama in the White House following his announcement of his administration's Promise Neighborhoods initiative.

When the time came to apply for college, Tiffany wasn’t alone. College counselors from our premier charter schools were with her every step of the way — helping her choose the right college, fill out applications, and apply for financial aid. They even assigned Tiffany and her parents a Spanish translator to help navigate the process.

“I don’t think I would’ve been able to manage it all on my own,” Tiffany says.

Checking in

After graduating high school, Tiffany went to City College in Manhattan, where she earned a degree in Psychology of Animal Behavior. HCZ — through our College Success Office — stayed by Tiffany’s side throughout her college journey.

“They checked in when I registered for classes, during midterms and finals, and when I still needed aid,” she recalls.

HCZ Promise Academy Charter Schools graduate Tiffany Gallegos with members of her family at her college graduation.

They were even there to support her when she went back to school to earn her veterinary nursing degree — an experience that led to internships at Central Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo. 

“HCZ is a big part of the woman I am today,” she says. “They had dreams for us. I am and always will be a proud member of the HCZ family.”