High School Senior from Buffalo Represents Say Yes at White House Education Summit Hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama

Press Release

Contact: Say Yes Buffalo
Daphne Inman, 716-247-5310 ext. 211

BUFFALO – Say Yes Buffalo announced today that Sumitra Acharya, a 2015 graduate of Burgard High School who will enroll this fall at Buffalo State College, attended the “Beating the Odds” summit hosted at the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama on July 23.

Sumitra, who will attend Buffalo State College and who intends to major in Biology, was nominated to participate in the summit by Say Yes Buffalo and the Say Yes national organization. As a citywide chapter in the Say Yes national organization, Say Yes Buffalo is a partnership of local education stakeholders and other community leaders who have come together to ensure that graduates of the city’s public and charter schools have access to college or other post-secondary scholarships — as well as to academic, social-emotional and other supports and services intended to eliminate barriers to achievement.

Sumitra, who came to Buffalo in 2013 after spending her entire life in a refugee camp in Nepal, is 1 of only 150 members of the U.S. high school graduating class of 2015 who was selected by the White House to attend the conference. It was described by organizers of the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative as providing the participants with “resource-rich panels and discussions related to better preparation for their academic journeys ahead.”

Each of the conference attendees must be bound for college in the fall. Sumitra was escorted by Burgard High School’s principal, Charlene Watson.

When asked about the conference, Sumitra said “I am honored and delighted to be attending The Beating the Odds Summit. I am very grateful for this opportunity”.

Sumitra, who participated in a variety of Say Yes Buffalo pre-college prep programming, will also take part in the Say Yes Buffalo Summer Success Academy at Buffalo State this summer.  The program helps incoming freshmen make the transition from high school to college while also allowing them to earn up to six credits and be paid through the City of Buffalo’s Mayor’s Summer Youth program.

Sumitra hopes to become a pediatrician – and to travel back to Nepal and other third-world countries to help them create sustainable pediatric clinics.

Of Say Yes Buffalo, Sumitra said: “Say Yes Buffalo has had a significant impact on my life because it opened the doors of opportunity for a student like me to go to college. Earning a college degree was my lifelong goal and now because of Say Yes I am closer toward reaching my goals”.


Launched in 2012, the Say Yes Buffalo partnership is a community collaboration dedicated to strengthening the city’s public school system and increasing high school and postsecondary graduation rates.  Comprised of the Buffalo Public School District, City of Buffalo, Erie County, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the District Parent Coordinating Council and more than one-hundred other funders and community-based-organizations is made possible by the collaboration and generosity of Western New York individuals, families, businesses and organizations and Say Yes to Education.  More information at www.SayYesBuffalo.org.


Say Yes to Education was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss, who boldly promised more than 100 sixth graders at a Philadelphia public school that he would pay to send them to college if they graduated high school. In the years since, Say Yes has evolved into a national nonprofit that helps organize and galvanize communities around the goals of every public school student graduating high school — and then being able to attain, afford and complete a college or other post-secondary education.  The organization currently works with nearly 65,000 public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Most are in communitywide chapters in the upstate New York cities of Syracuse (since 2008) and Buffalo (2012). The organization has smaller chapters in Harlem and Philadelphia, and expects to add a communitywide chapter, outside of New York State, later this year.

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