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FORNEY, Texas — With his recent graduation in May, a North Forney High School alumni has become the school's first Ivy League graduate.

From Forney ISD to the Ivy League, 2016 North Forney High School graduate Allen Porterie looks back at his time in Forney with "joy and gratitude" — encouraging future students to question the world around them, to continue learning, and to care for one another; an element essential to a community.

"I had wonderful teachers and mentors who always encouraged me to push myself and never stop asking questions of the world around me," he told inForney.com. "Their investment in me bolstered my motivation to even consider applying to Ivy League institutions."

Porterie recalls the contagious and communal pride among his peers and teachers at North Forney High School when he shared news of his acceptance to Cornell University.

"There was genuine pride in their eyes and smiles," he said.

"Forney ISD certainly prepared me for the rigor of college academically but navigating the social sphere of an upstate New York Ivy League community as a first-generation college student from rural Texas took some adjusting. (And yes, it was cold!)"

"For the first time, I was surrounded by exorbitant amounts of wealth in my daily life," he said. "For the first time, I saw first-hand what it meant to be a part of and learn from an international and multicultural community. For the first time, I experienced a Black educator leading the classroom."

As a graduate of both Cornell University and North Forney, Porterie says his hope is that "both institutions will invest in the cultural and ethnic diversity that must encompass a world-class education."

"This means bringing voices of communities of color to the classroom and administration, while also being deeply committed to anti-racism in every facet of the educational structure," he stated.

Porterie says he hopes to contribute to those efforts as a scholar, professor, actor, director, and playwright in the future.

"My goal is to give back as much of the love and invested care that so many of my mentors and educators have given to me," he said. "Whether that be in the classroom, on stage or on camera, my intention is always to educate, heal, and inspire."

"I would encourage anyone reading this, whether a current student or not, to constantly ask questions of the world around you," he continued. "Read those books that someone referred to you, challenge your own beliefs and norms, and lead each day with an open mind and heart to hear what the people around you need."

"We all have a responsibility as citizens to care for one another. We cannot have community without this element."

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