The Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy’s (BELA) 2021 graduating class is the school’s first graduating class to have a 100% college acceptance rate, reported

BELA’s graduating class is comprised of 50 students with 90% of the girls in the senior class identifying as Black. The monumental achievement also marks a first for 75% of the graduating class who will become first-generation college students.

During the 2020-2021 school year, BELA’s seniors collectively applied to more than 150 colleges and universities and received nearly $1 million in merit-based scholarships. 

The academy’s staff held a “college shower” for the graduating class last month where seniors were presented with swag bags which included duffle bags, supplies for their dorms and wireless headphones. 

The academy, located in Bed-Stuy, opened its doors in 2017 aiming to help young Black and Brown girls overcome educational challenges by empowering them to embrace themselves and reach their full potential. 

The school has an international baccalaureate program, wellness courage and a mentorship program for the students, according to Bklyner.

BELA co-founder and head of school Nicia Fullwood addressed the students during the “college shower,” emphasizing their greatness.

“Today, you are rewriting history and contributing to the legacy of District 16 of Bedford-Stuyvesant.” Fullwood added “We’ve always said that you all were destined for greatness; that you’d change the world in ways we could never imagine. Despite your non-traditional senior year, today, we celebrate all of you.” 

During the “college shower,” some of BELA’s seniors spoke with about their plans for the fall. 

BELA senior Mariam Sikiru plans to major in urban studies at Barnard College this fall. She said she hopes to tackle New York City and Nigeria’s transportation and housing infrastructure issues. 

“I would just go straight back to Nigeria and work at a nonprofit and then like basically work on their transformational systems and making sure it was good,” Sikiru said. “I want to make an infrastructure to help those who are in need like the disabled, [and in] foster care and orphanages.” 

As for BELA’S 2021 valedictorian, Nyasia Bailey, she plans to attend Sarah Lawrence College in the fall. She would like to study journalism and creative writing with aspirations of in the media industry. 

“As a Black woman, it just feels like we’re really overlooked,” Bailey said. “Through writing and film, I want to be able to tell our stories and share what we’re going through, because some people just don’t want to hear it from us.”