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Communities in Schools Scholarship Recipient: Gabriel Dejesus


elder man and woman and young man stand holding diploma

Gabriel Dejesus, an energetic, idea-driven student from Building 21 Allentown, received this year’s Chandler Barnes Scholarship. Each year, Communities in Schools of Eastern PA presents this award to a student who plans to attend an accredited college or university, business school, trade school, or training program. With this award, Gabriel will attend Northhampton Community College in the fall to pursue his artistic talents in Media Production.


When Gabriel first started high school, he was faced with many new challenges. From the beginning, he had trouble focusing in class, grasping different concepts, and dealing with his mental health. Gabriel, who was known to be a very shy student, struggled to advocate for himself and get the help he needed. Once Gabriel’s guidance counselor connected him with CIS of Eastern PA, this all began to change. CIS of Eastern PA provided Gabriel a safe place to learn and grow and a one-on-one relationship with his site coordinator, Mrs. Heather Annunziata.


“CIS created a safe, quiet place for me to do my schoolwork when I became overwhelmed in the classroom,” said Gabriel. “Mrs. Annunziata has been my voice when I was not able to speak up for myself or when I felt like I was not heard.” Throughout high school, Mrs. Annunziata would attend class with Gabriel and meet outside of school to discuss his academic goals. “He is bright and modest at the same time,” said Mrs. Annunziata. “He has an uncanny ability to befriend anyone he meets.”


During Gabriel’s time at Building 21 Allentown, he was very involved in the art program. Recently, Gabriel was honored with the Arts Ovation Award in Allentown. His work was also auctioned at the Annual Gala for Allentown School District. In addition to his artistic abilities, Gabriel was also known to be very skilled with computers. Outside of school, Gabriel was an active participant at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and Project Silk Lehigh Valley.


CIS of Eastern PA turned Gabriel’s high school experience around. With the support of his site coordinator, Gabriel began to thrive in his classes. Not only did Gabriel learn to advocate for himself, but he now uses the communication skills he developed at CIS of Eastern PA to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth in Lehigh Valley. “He will prove to be completely devoted to his academics and will go on to make Communities in Schools proud,” said Mrs. Annunziata.



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