On May 3, Downtown Magazine‘s CEO & Publisher Grace A. Capobianco had the pleasure of attending Oliver Scholars‘ Annual Gala, honoring Ryan Speedo Green, an American Bass baritone opera singer, as well as members of the graduating class of 2017.



Robert Guimento, David Allyn,  Timothy Pope

This year’s gala was held in downtown, New York City at the IAC building, hosted by Lynda Baquero, Consumer Reporter of NBC 4.


Lynda Baquero, NBC 4

Oliver Scholars — founded in 1984 — fosters the development of the next generation of thought leaders, change-makers, and trailblazers.

Chair Dorothea Schlosser

Meandering around during the cocktail party, Capobianco was thrilled to be able to interview several young senior trailblazers.

Oliver Alumni Shirley Rumierk, Terry-Ann Burrell, Alba Roman

Scholar, Stephanie Bravo, imagined herself as a surgeon at a very young age. Today, because of Oliver Scholars, that dream will become a reality. After graduating, she plans to go onto study biology and pre-med. When asked to describe her experience with this program in a few words, Bravo chose the words “transforming” and “caring”.

Stephanie Bravo, Makeda Lewis , Lutfah Subair

Lutfah Subair, class of 2017, will study at Cornell to become a neurosurgeon — working on global healthcare. She wants to see Nigerians have a better health care system to ensure that the health care crisis does not continue with future generations. When asked, Lutfah’s one word to describe Oliver Scholars was “encouraging”.

Makeda, a staffer with Oliver Scholars, noted that the students are already driven, most have strong support from their parents and don’t need much pushing.

Krystal Ramirez, class of 2017, learned of Oliver Scholars from her guidance counselor when she was in the seventh grade. Ramirez’s father Julius works in law enforcement in New York and could not be more proud of his children. Laritza, Ramirez’s mother, chose Oliver Scholars program for her older sister and hoped that Krystal would follow in her footsteps.

Julius Ramirez, Krystal Ramirez, Laritza RamirezKrystal Ramirez, Alba Roman

Zozi Flores, class of 2017, was fresh out of middle school and after taking the SSAT was accepted into the program. He plans to start Brown University to study Mechanical engineering. After graduating, Flores wishes to go back to Park Slope to help better his childhood neighborhood. Flores’ words to describe the Oliver Scholars program was “unbelievable” and “opportunistic”.

Richard Andrews, Krystal Ramirez, Tahrieq Koonce – Student Awards Winner

“Children of today, with hard work, dedication and good parental guidance have opportunities which were not always available when I was young.” stated Capobianco. Her advice to the young scholars, “Study hard, get noticed, talk with your school’s guidance counselor, and reach out to these organizations who can help you set a solid foundation for not only your future but for our country’s future.”

Judith-Ann Corrente, Ryan Speedo Green

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