Meet Matthew McKenzie, StuyPrep Alum and Incoming Brooklyn Tech Freshman

Matthew McKenzie was one of last year’s StuyPrep participants who recently earned a spot at Brooklyn Tech. Read more below.

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Matthew McKenzie at his middle school in Brooklyn

Matthew McKenzie still remembers the day he got his Specialized High School admissions results and found out that he was admitted to Brooklyn Tech. “I was ecstatic. The first thing I did was call my mom. My friends and I couldn’t stop talking about it. Everyone kept congratulating me. Then I thought back to what my mom had said about how I would ultimately be thankful that I had spent the time preparing.”

In addition to the many hours of studying on his own, Matthew was one of the 75 students enrolled in StuyPrep, a free SHSAT test-prep program sponsored by the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association to help students in underrepresented neighborhoods of New York City gain admission to the specialized high schools. For 14 weeks starting in late summer, the StuyPrep students spent 4 hours every Saturday working with Kaplan instructors and current Stuyvesant students and alumni who supported the students with tutoring and mentorships. Students also made a number of trips to Stuyvesant High School as part of the program, where they toured the school and interacted with guest speakers.

When asked about his favorite part of the program, Matthew said he really liked working with the Stuyvesant tutors who are current students at the school. “They asked us a lot of questions, and helped us prepare for both the exam and high school. They provided their perspective, and it was more helpful than working with an adult who may not remember high school as well as current students.”

George Zheng '18, current senior, volunteered as a student tutor for StuyPrep the last two years.

George Zheng ’18, the StuyPrep coach who worked with Matthew, said that Matthew already had a solid understanding of fundamental concepts, and George enjoyed helping Matthew develop his grasp of more advanced topics. StuyPrep was also an incredibly eye-opening experience for George that allowed him “to step down from the ivory towers of Stuy and reflect on the significance of impacting the lives of bright, yet underprivileged students.” Like many of StuyPrep’s students, George was raised in a socioeconomically-disadvantaged household. However, George also had family members, classmates, and teachers that encouraged taking steps to pursue higher education, which is a support system that many of the students at MS61 and similar schools do not have. “Participating in StuyPrep has made me cognizant of how vital this extrinsic support is.” George said, and he believes that StuyPrep can offer Matthew and other students some of the same support through mentorships and interactions with other Stuy alumni.

Matthew came from a very different school environment than most Stuyvesant students. He attended Brooklyn’s MS61 where only 16% and 25% of the school’s students met state standards for the State Math test and English test, respectively. The overall student pass rate at MS61 is 66%. In comparison, the average student pass rate for New York City is 93%. Most of MS61 students end up attending the zoned high schools nearby.

Getting into [Brooklyn Tech] was the first step to getting into a good college so that I can continue growing into a better person.

Matthew could not be happier for the opportunity to go to Brooklyn Tech. When asked about his favorite subjects at school and what fields he wants to pursue in the future, he said, “I am interested in architecture and engineering. I like to take things apart and put them back together, or make modifications to things that I already have. Civil engineering is interesting to me because I like buildings and bridges, but I also have an interest in cars and airplanes.” Matthew will be happy to learn that Brooklyn Tech uses a college style system of majors and offers majors in Architecture, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering.

Matthew looks forward to the next school year and starting this new phase of his life, “I think it will be a great opportunity for me… Getting into a good high school was the first step to getting into a good college so that I can continue growing into a better person.”

Help us serve more bright and deserving students like Matthew!

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In addition to making a gift to the Stuy Fund, you can also get involved by becoming a StuyPrep coach. To learn more about this volunteer opportunity and how to apply, click here