CARLSBAD — An academic support program designed to prepare students for college and beyond changed the trajectory for one Carlsbad teenager who is now heading to the Big Apple.
Christian Dorsey-McQueen, 18, who recently graduated from Sage Creek High School, will attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. But he gained the confidence to chase his dream through the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program.
And while fashion is his passion, Dorsey-McQueen has set himself apart through his never-ending extracurricular activities.
Dorsey-McQueen also completed two Genius Projects, each a yearlong passion project resulting in more than $15,000 in scholarships, including $10,000 from the Judith Campbell Family and Community Foundation via the Carlsbad Educational Foundation.
“I hear my name and thought this is happening,” Dorsey-McQueen said of the $10,000 scholarship. “I was surprised but grateful.”
After eighth grade, Dorsey-McQueen joined AVID and met Aida Salah, who oversees the program and quickly became a mentor. Salah helped draw out the confidence to chase his dream.
Dorsey-McQueen ramped up his involvement at Sage Creek. He served as president of the Black Student Union, launched the Fashion Club, performed live theater, joined the NAACP’s youth division and competed in ACTOS, the NAACP’s Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.
Dorsey-McQueen’s primary Genius Project involved members of the Black Student Union visiting third-grade classrooms to help teach about Black History Month, including interactive sessions and making bookmarks inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
For his second Genius Project, Dorsey-McQueen focused on connecting fashion design with various social justice causes. And he did it all while performing in the school’s winter musical.
“Speaking up and social change is something I want to be a part of,” Dorsey-McQueen said. “Fashion has such a wide platform and can hit millions of people. By doing that, I can be involved in politics and something (else) that I like … and being creative.”
Now, he’s ready to take on New York City in a new chapter of his life.
Despite the exciting next step, Dorsey-McQueen’s still unsure about his career path. Still, his interests range from fashion design and journalism to politics — all of which could allow him to express his activism and viewpoints.
Megan Corazza, chair of the counseling department, and Jillian Porter-Eshelman, a theater educator, said they are both excited to see Dorsey-McQueen’s future unfold.
Both educators raved about Dorsey-McQueen’s growth over the last four years, who served as a mentor to other students.
Corazza said he’s been able to provide spaces for Black students to discuss local and national issues.
“(Dorsey-McQueen) very committed to the cause and providing an opportunity for others,” Corazzo said. “He’s taking everything he believes in and pushing it forward that is acceptable to all. Sometimes it makes folks uncomfortable, but he handles it with grace.”