Success Stories

Destiny Johnson, program alumna

Portrait of Destiny Johnson.

I joined the Liberty Partnerships Program (Liberty) my junior year of high school. Liberty had an in-school tutoring program in my high school along with an afterschool program on UB’s South Campus. With Liberty, I attended various college tours across the state and was exposed to UB’s campus for the first time. Liberty tutors helped me fill out my college applications, FAFSA and wrote recommendations. 

While I was an undergrad, I worked as a history tutor for Liberty. It was a great way to give back to the program that helped me in so many ways and I was able to watch the success of younger generations. 

In May, 2020, I received my Juris Doctorate from the University at Buffalo School of Law and have accepted a position with the Department of the Navy working as an acquisitions attorney. I am truly grateful to have been a part of the Liberty Partnerships Program!

Kevin Cooke, program alumnus

Portrait of Kevin Cook.

I got involved with Liberty Partnerships around the end of my eighth grade year at School #31. It was the summer before my freshman year of high school. I was asked to attend the program for the summer by a teacher. I was told I would get the opportunity to learn new things, go on field trips and even earn a stipend. Who could say no to that experience?

Liberty Partnerships has shaped my life in the classroom in many ways. 1. By offering me the extra help for class courses I struggled in. If I didn’t quite grasp the concept of chemistry or algebra during school hours, I had somewhere to go and get help at the program after school. 2. Offering me courses I may not have been exposed to during my usual courses at school i.e. film study or music industry insight. Liberty also offered accredited college courses to give me insight on what the workload would be like when pursuing the next level of education. Liberty has also guided me every step of the way during my college application process in to which I attended Shaw University, the first HBCU of the south, and exposed me to college campus life prior. From various field trips to the colleges/universities within the SUNY/CUNY college area. I believe the Liberty Partnerships Program was instrumental in showing and involving us in those things that interest us in pursuing a college degree.

Outside of the classroom, Liberty gave me countless lifelong friendships. A lot of my peers I attended the program with during my tenure I am still in contact with to this day. Liberty has helped me with writing resumes to apply for jobs and identify what employers look for when reviewing them. Mock interviews for jobs and the list goes on. Liberty provides a safe haven away from home to students who can come and express themselves and engage in opportunities they may not be afforded without the program. From volunteering and community service projects to fun events like Broadway plays and Darien Lake—Liberty does it all.

I graduated McKinley Vocational High School in June of 2008. I am currently living in Houston, TX with my wife and two children. I am working as a business analyst for Cigna Medicare.

The advice that I would give current students in the program would be to get involved, participate and take advantage of the countless opportunities provided by the program. Continue to make memories, lifelong friendships and be mindful of your future as Liberty is a great tool to help shape you into your future self. Lastly, I would also challenge them to find a mentor.