Cooper, a rower and youth advocate with ties to NMH, is the author of A Most Beautiful Thing, a memoir about the first all-Black high school rowing team in the nation. He was the keynote speaker at NMH’s commencement in 2021 and returned to NMH this past spring to spend the day with students, sharing lessons he learned through rowing and advice on wellness and personal growth. Through the A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, Cooper works to make rowing more accessible to underserved communities and low-income families.
Fernando and Janelli are participating in the NMH rowing program this fall, building upon their experiences as rowers at San Miguel Academy, which is recognized as one of the Iargest competitive minority middle school rowing programs in the country.
Marvin T. Garcia, NMH director of financial aid, said the partnership with Cooper is one way NMH is delivering on its commitment to expanding access for students from diverse backgrounds to fully participate in school life. Building a supportive network of dedicated faculty and increasing its need-based scholarship budget and non-tuition aid make a difference, he said. Eligible students receive books, laptops, and other academic materials, along with transportation home during major school breaks, athletic gear, cash stipend, and more.
“When students whose traditional paths don’t include boarding school, it is the responsibility of schools like NMH to make sure students and their families feel as if they belong,” Garcia said.
NMH Head of School Brian Hargrove described the students as “strong citizens and scholars with real ambition in the classroom.
“I have no doubt that Fern and Janelli are going to make our rowing program more promising in the years to come,” Hargrove said. “And even more than that, these kids are great citizens who want to take full advantage of the academic and outside-the-classroom experiences at Northfield Mount Hermon.”
“When I found out that I was given the Arshay Cooper scholarship to NMH, I definitely didn’t realize it then but right now I'm realizing it’s a really life changing opportunity that I was given,” Fernando said.
“Now that I’m living here at Northfield Mount Hermon, I actually think it’s amazing,” Janelli said. “I think it’s amazing that they opened an opportunity for girls to experience what I am experiencing and to be able to go away and attend an amazing boarding school like this one.”