New York High School Senior is Among 12 Winners of ACLU College Scholarship for Youth Activism

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
May 23, 2001 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – – The American Civil Liberties Union of New York today announced that Geny Cabral of Central Park East Secondary School in Manhattan is one of 12 seniors nationwide to be awarded a $4,000 college scholarship in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the struggle to defend civil liberties.

e — Geny, has grown into a dedicated activist for civil liberties, reproductive health care and the rights of minors. Since Geny joined THI three years ago, she has become an outspoken ambassador on civil rights issues, traveling to other countries to share and learn about activism.

“”Geny brings extraordinary passion, insight and intelligence to everything she does,”” said Katy Yanda, Director of the NYCLU’s Teen Health Initiative. “”In addition to being a dedicated civil activist who is not afraid to speak up when she sees injustice, she is an educator who constantly shares what she learns with her community.””

Geny’s role as peer educator for THI involves intense training in reproductive health issues, youth rights, civil liberties and activism. Geny and other peer educators along with THI officials provide workshops for teens and health care professionals, produce educational materials, and advocate for youth rights. In addition, Geny helps train new peer educators and serves as the editor of the THI newsletter.

Two years ago, Geny moderated a highly successful THI “”Speak OUT”” on police Brutality, which attracted over 50 participants and received significant media coverage. Most recently, she helped coordinate a Teen Health Summit for over 60 peer educators from 17 New York City organizations.

“The most important part of what I do, of what any person who works in civil liberties does, is reach out to various communities,” said Geny, who will be attending Syracuse University on full scholarship in the Fall. “By reaching out to young people, I was doing something that had not happened too often; I was empowering them, just as I had been empowered. Perhaps it is a bit far-fetched to think that something so important can come from a half-hour workshop, but sometimes you have to start small to make the biggest impact.”

While earning top grades at her school, Geny was also an active member of Girls, Inc., a national youth organization dedicated to empowering girls. She represented Girls Inc. on an international panel at a Youth Council at the U.N.’s 2000 Conference on Women. She spoke about representing her community as an activist and encouraging her peers to do the same. Because of her work at the conference, she was featured in a Lifetime Television piece. Geny was also recently chosen to represent her school at a week-long youth camp in Chile by Reach, Rallying the Entertainment and Athletic Community to Help.

Geny, a native New Yorker, lives with her mother, grandmother, and younger brother in Spanish Harlem. Her mother emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in the late 1970s. Both Geny’s mother and grandmother work long hours as home attendants, often leaving Geny to look after her brother while they work.

In addition to Geny, this year’s other recipients hail from California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Many of the students selected stood up for the rights of their peers by challenging the injustices inflicted upon them by school officials; created an ACLU chapter at their school; or interned at the ACLU affiliate office in their state. In 2000, the first year of the program, the ACLU awarded scholarships to eight high school seniors.

“”The ACLU’s College Scholarship for Youth Activism Award gives us an opportunity to recognize the courage of students like Ms. Brown and the example they set for their peers,”” said Nadine Strossen, President of the National ACLU. “”It truly is an honor to be able to provide these intelligent, resourceful and committed young people with support for their education.””

To learn about the other winners, please visit our web feature at

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