An update on that Humans of New York story, because it's SO good
Do you need a morning feel-good-cry? Do you need your faith restored in humanity? Do you need to feel a well of feelings bubbling up in your heart place? We can totally make that happen.
You may recall a completely heart-warming incident late last month that came by way of Humans of New York, the epic photography project by Brandon Stanton, which tells stories of everyday New Yorkers.
Stanton posted a photo to Facebook on January 19 highlighting a boy named Vidal who was praising his school principal, Ms. Nadia Lopez, for her work with his middle school and for straight up being the most important and influential person in his life. It was a pretty special moment.
Well Stanton certainly thought it was a special moment too, because he went on to profile various people in the school (including the amazing Ms. Lopez). Ms. Lopez spoke some epic-ness in her interview with Stanton that let us know she’s a special woman anchoring a really special school:
“I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.” So much beauty in that.
The HONY following was hooked on the school and the story and Stanton decided to harness this interest and set up a crowd funding campaign to help give the kids at Mott Hall Bridges Academy the opportunity to travel outside of their community to visit university’s like Harvard (a tradition Ms. Lopez had set up which they often struggled with funding for). Long story short, just five days, Stanton’s social media followers raised $1 million dollars for the scholars (Ms. Lopez calls the kids “scholars” not “students” FYI), far over the original $100,000 goal. If that doesn’t bring feel good feelings then please read it again.
But wait, it gets better: The Vidal/Ms. Lopez story is now also getting the media attention it so deserves.
On February 4th, Ms. Lopez and her school shot a segment with Robin Roberts for Good Morning America. Stanton posted a photo of Lopez and Roberts grinning in a photo and gave us a little insight into just how important teachers are from Roberts’ POV:
“My mother wasn’t supposed to go to college,” Roberts told HONY’s Stanton. “My grandmother dropped out of school in 5th grade, and my grandfather dropped out in 6th grade. So they just didn’t know how to raise a daughter to go to college. But my mother had an elementary school teacher named Ms. Wilma Schnegg.
“And Ms. Schnegg is a legend in our family, because she made sure my mother knew that she was expected to go to college,” Roberts continued. “She sat down and helped my mother apply for a $100 scholarship, and my mother used that scholarship to go to Howard University. And that one act rippled down through several generations. Because of that, my mother met my father. And they raised four children who went to college. And because of Ms. Schnegg, I’m where I am today. So I look at the story of Ms. Lopez and this school, and I think of Ms. Schnegg, and I think of how much my mother would have loved this story.” The BEST story ever and really thank goodness for people like Ms. Lopez and Ms. Schnegg. Changing lives every, single day.
No, wait. It gets even better.
Yesterday, Stanton, Lopez and her student Vidal got to meet President Barack Obama in the Oval office. Pretty epic. Obama’s advice to Vidal was the following:
Pretty powerful to see Vidal in the Oval Office and Obama’s advice for him? So heartfelt and spot on.
Oh, and the cherry on top? Ellen DeGeneres also met the trio, and announced that Target would be donating electronics to all of the classrooms at Mott Bridges Hall Academy. I mean, come on. This story is beyond. These people are beyond. And we’re so happy to see goodness on this level.
We’re taking a moment now to think of our own personal Ms. Lopez, and thanking whoever that may be. Our lives would not be the same without you.