Supporting our Scholars to Shine in High School, College, and Beyond: Brilla’s College and Career Readiness Program 

Even before a child is born, parents dream about their future—one filled with joy, purpose, and happiness. They want their child to shine.

Brilla’s College and Career Readiness Program supports our students to do just that: find their shine. Led by Chris Matesic, the program focuses primarily on placing students in a high school that is the best fit for them. But the goal is more than that. It also aims to guide students to find their passion, develop their talents, and unlock opportunities. Through the program, scholars access the necessary levels of agency to successfully navigate the challenging high school application process. They ultimately become the person they are meant to be.

The placement program starts as early as fifth grade, when students are challenged to develop high school habits. Students can choose career-related electives that invite them to imagine broader possibilities for their future. In addition to a robust fine and applied arts program that features a string orchestra, students can take classes in computer coding, personal finances, theater arts, and even boxing.

Students work on their art portfolios for applications to fine arts high school programs. 

For those who seek it, Brilla helps students attend New York City’s top Catholic and private high schools. These schools share Brilla’s commitment to the dignity of each person and 100% of their graduates are accepted to college (compared to the Bronx public high schools’ college placement rate of under 50%). Brilla hosted over ten visits from private and Catholic high schools this fall and 40 students took the TACHS (Test for Admissions into Catholic High Schools). In just two years, Brilla scholars have earned over $1 million in scholarships and financial aid to attend private high schools.

In addition to private high schools, Brilla has also been working with scholars who are interested in attending a specialized high school. Specialized high schools in the city focus on math, the sciences, and the arts. There are currently five Brilla alumni thriving at these high schools. This November, four of these Brilla alumni visited our current seventh and eighth graders and answered their questions about NYC’s specialized high schools. Brilla’s College Readiness Team prepared interested scholars for the Specialized High School Admissions Test, (which took place before Thanksgiving) with diagnostic testing as well as counseling support for their applications.

Brilla 8th graders took the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test this November. 

We are proud of all of our Brilla scholars who are shining in high school. Two scholars with recent accomplishments are Jeremy Batista (Class of 2025) and Cristian Guadalupe (Class of 2026). Jeremy Batista ‘25, currently a sophomore at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, was awarded Top Scholar for the Virtual Business and Entrepreneurship Fundamentals Block. Read more about Jeremy’s exciting accomplishments—and his infectious “shine”—below:

Brilla alumnus Cristian Guadalupe ‘26 has taken his high school by storm. A freshman on a full scholarship at Kiski School in Saltsburg, PA, Cristian joined the school band and is one of the four guitarists. Cristian also made the Varsity cross country team, which he celebrated by sharing with Brilla staff, “I GOT INTO A VARSITY SPORT!” You may remember Cristian from the feature article we shared on recent Brilla graduates. We continue to be proud of Cristian’s wide range of talents and are overjoyed at how he is thriving in high school.

Cristian Guadalupe seated on the bottom, far left with fellow classmates. 

What’s Brilla’s secret for supporting students to find the right fit in high school and beyond? It all starts with honoring human dignity and free choice, and partnering with parents as the primary educators of their children. The College and Career Readiness team meets with parents during evenings and weekends – whenever parents are available. Last month, Ms. Carmen Santos, School Counselor, led a parent workshop to help families apply for financial aid. While scholars are robustly supported by Brilla, families are empowered to guide the process. “We ask scholars and families what their dreams are for the future and help them create a vision of who they are and where they want to go,” explains Mr. Matesic.

We are so proud of our scholars and can’t wait to see how each of them will share their light with the world in the years to come!

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