For Immediate Release

Name: Marie Thelusma-Chase

Phone: 908-241-686

Email address:

News Release

A letter from a champion to her community:

Dear Neighbor,

 I’m becoming a better me. My life has totally changed since Summer 2021. I was failing in high school, in trouble due to bad decisions, and did not see a lot of options for me. I left high school and didn’t think I would get back on track.

Going to school during the state lockdown was hard for me. As a result, my high grades started to slip. I knew that if my GPA continued to slip, I wouldn’t be able to attend a good college. My counselor then told me about Boxwood Learning Center (Boxwood). I found out that I could attend Boxwood and that they would help me earn my high school diploma by way of the high school proficiency exam. Taking all of this into consideration, I thought it was best I drop out of high school and attend their Educational Achievement Center.

Fast forward a year later, I’m now a freshman at Morgan State University (MSU) this fall. So, what changed in my life?

My parents weren’t thrilled with my decision to leave high school. However, I was able to show them that my determination and drive would allow me to complete the high school proficiency exam before January 2022; I did just that! At 16 years old, I completed my high school education and received my diploma. This accomplishment empowered and inspired me, and I was eager to move on to the next step in my educational journey—college.

I always knew that I wanted to attend college and when the opportunity arose for me to visit MSU, I jumped at the chance. With my mother and siblings in tow, we visited MSU. I can truly say it was love at first sight. Stepping foot on the MSU campus for the first time, I felt like I was embraced and welcomed with open arms. I was excited to be somewhere that valued my culture and made me feel comfortable to be myself. I felt seen. I knew I would thrive at MSU.


After college, I would to work as a crime scene forensic investigator. I am a naturally curious and inquisitive person, and I always wanted to get into law enforcement. My love and desire for this career choice stem from watching all of the crime shows like Law & Order, CSI, and Bones with my mom.

Attending MSU will be the start of my passionate journey towards my career goals. I believe attending MSU will increase my social skills, as well as provide a balance of learning and campus activities. I am looking forward to all of the new experiences that this new journey will afford me.

To date, my family and I raised most of my college tuition in grants and loans. We are so very close to raising my first year college tuition. I would be grateful for any donation from the community to help me with my tuition at MSU.


Yara McMiller

Future Public Servant

Donate - Yara McMiller College Scholarship

Scholarship Fundraiser for Yara McMiller

Boxwood plans to help Yara raise at least $2,000 from community support. The Three Dollar Fund Raiser: we are asking friends and family to donate increments of $3. You can donate $3, $9, $33, or $300 (   Note: Include Yara McMiller name in description ).

Our champions need EVERYONE support to get to their next level. Thank you to the Union County Youth Services Commission* and the New Jersey Office of Faith-Based Initiatives for sponsoring the educational programs for local champions.

“Developing programs designed to help at-risk youth identify paths to better and greater opportunities is what the NJ Office of Faith Based Initiatives (OFBI) seeks to support. The Boxwood Learning Center career path and college readiness programs support the OFBI’s vision in working with and developing the skills of at-risk youth to advance academically while teaching them how best to identify and strive for opportunities that can create paths to prosperity. The OFBI applauds Boxwood for its momentous efforts and how it prepares at-risk youth to succeed in any and all endeavors they choose.” – Edward LaPorte, Director of the New Jersey Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

*The Educational Achievement Center is funded by the Union County Youth Services Commission through a New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission State/Community Partnership Grant. The Union County Youth Services Commission is part of the Union County Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Services.

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