What will I do after graduation? With so many career and college paths, that is the question on the minds of seniors at Bound Brook High School.
Luckily for them, nine Bound Brook High School alumni who have successfully answered that question for themselves returned to offer insight and guidance on navigating the transition.
On Jan. 6, BBHS hosted an Alumni Panel in the high school’s auditorium. BBHS started hosting the panels virtually in 2021. Now, back in-person, the event connected students and alumni on an even greater scale.
“I’m so proud of the organic and meaningful conversation that occurred at the Alumni Panel,” said Anthony Appezzato, a school counselor at BBHS who organized the event. “We were excited to offer this opportunity and plan to make it an annual event.”
Each alumnus had a different path, goals and aspirations – all with the common theme that they are thriving. Some attend four-year universities, such as Drexel, NYU, Harvard and Rutgers, while some work and attend community college, and others enrolled in the Marines.
“I’m constantly impressed by their drive, resilience, and focus on giving back to the community,” said Dr. Alvin Freeman, superintendent of schools. “They have embraced the belief that it is their responsibility to make sure that the students who follow them have even better opportunities than they were afforded. It is something that our school community is really proud of.”
Among the panelists was Jordy Chaves ‘22, a freshman at Harvard University studying history.
“It felt surreal to return to my hometown and give back to my community. I think I will always feel a tie to Bound Brook High School,” he said.
Chaves credits BBHS for helping him build a foundation and reach his goals. “BBHS lies a foundation that encourages self-responsibility and initiative in students,” he said. “I use those skills every day in my college courses.”
During spring and summer break, Chaves plans to work as a teachers aid in the Bound Brook School District – again giving back to the district that lifted him up. He hopes to become a professor or historian in the future.
Another panelist, Nazceer Whitley ‘19, a senior studying business at Seton Hall University, credits Bound Book High School for impacting his mindset.
“Personally, Bound Brook elevated my way of thinking,” Whitley explained. “Connections are a huge aspect of college and in the beginning of your career. Bound Brook prepares you for making those connections.”
For Whitley, returning to BBHS was the best feeling in the world. The panel gave him the opportunity to share his knowledge and empower the next generation of students. He hopes they’ll surpass his accomplishments.
Whitley is no stranger to giving back to the community. He founded the Day-by-Day Foundation in 2019, which donates a scholarship back to the school. Once he graduates from Seton Hall, he plans to join the Bound Brook Police Department or become a paid firefighter.
BBHS alumna Aliyah Saleem ’20, a student at Rutgers University studying public and nonprofit administration, also returned for the panel.
She was recently awarded the Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholarship, created by the Obamas and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. The scholarship recognizes students who demonstrate leadership and a commitment to making a positive impact.
Walking the halls of BBHS resurfaced great memories for Saleem. She recalled feeling anxious, but her nerves dissipated as she engaged with the students. She left feeling grateful and inspired.
“I shared what I learned during those years and tried to give the students some advice on making the most of their high school experience,” she said. “I hope that I was able to make a positive impact on the students.”
In January 2022, Saleem founded Hope for Health & Hygiene, which aims to provide basic hygiene necessities to underserved and marginalized communities. To date, over 4,500 items have been donated to communities across the globe.
The panelists agree BBHS staff uncover every student’s potential and offer encouragement and advice to reach those goals.
“My teachers, coaches and counselors all believed in me,” said Chaves. “They put my needs and the needs of each student first.”
From time management to leadership, and communication skills, BBHS teaches students essential life skills for success.
“Through classes, presentations, and group projects, I learned how to articulate my thoughts and ideas, listen to and understand different perspectives, and collaborate with others,” said Saleem.
When asked to describe a favorite memory from their time at Bound Brook High School, all replied, “there are too many to choose from.”