Jaide Talmadge, a senior at St. Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, plans to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on a full scholarship in the fall. She is the first Saint Martin’s student accepted by an Ivy League school and the first Cristo Rey student among about 11,500 Cristo Rey graduates nationwide to attend Harvard.
The salutatorian of Saint Martin’s Class of 2017, Jaide announced her decision during the school’s 10th annual Academic Signing Day celebration on May 16. She decided between Georgetown University, Harvard University, Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University.
“Harvard felt the most comfortable and had the strongest sense of community of all the schools I visited,” Jaide said. “I felt especially welcomed by the Black Student Association and thought they will provide a great support system for me.”
Rich Clark, the founding president of Saint Martin de Porres, said Jaide’s achievement is a pivotal moment in the school’s history.
“Since welcoming our first class in 2004, we have worked extremely hard to establish a college-going culture,” Clark said. “This was realized when that class, and every subsequent class, attained 100 percent college acceptance. Then we refined the message to be about selecting the college or university that represented the best academic, financial and social fit for our students,” he added.
“With Jaide’s acceptance to Harvard, we have reached yet another milestone,” Clark said. “As the achievements of our current students and alumni set the tone for those who follow in their footsteps, future students will know that a Saint Martin education can open the gates of even the most prestigious colleges and universities. With 664 alumni, including 96 college graduates and 319 currently in college, Saint Martin is truly transforming Cleveland one student at a time,” Clark added.
Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey school, is part of the national Cristo Rey Network that includes 32 Catholic college preparatory schools with 10,700 students in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Cristo Rey schools integrate four years of college preparatory academics with four years of professional work experience.
Founded in 2003, Saint Martin has a student body of 400 students in grades 9-12, all of whom are from families of modest economic means. Saint Martin’s approach to education equips students with the knowledge, work experience, and skills to transform their lives, Clark said. Beginning in freshman year, Saint Martin establishes a culture of high-expectations by blending rigorous academics, four years of professional work experience, Catholic moral values and support for students to and through college, he added.
The school has 664 alumni, many of whom were the first in their families to attend or graduate from post-secondary education.