METROFOCUS: OCTOBER 11, 2019

After an on-air diagnosis, ABC News host Amy Robach discusses her battle and victory against the disease. Zeke Thomas, the son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, shares his cautionary tale and journey to self-acceptance. We take you to a school on the Lower East Side that is defying the odds and helping young women chase their dreams!

Aired on October 11, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

AMY FOUND OUT SHE HAD BREAST CANCER.

NOW THE ABC NEWS HOST IS RAISING AWARENESS AS SHE DISCUSSES HER BATTLE, HER VICTORY, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION.

> A NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY, A VICTIM BECOMES A LEADING VOICE FOR EQUALITY.

ZEKE THOMAS, THE TON OF BASKETBALL LEGEND ISAIAH THOMAS SHARES HIS CAUTIONARY TALE AND JOURNEY TO SELF-ACCEPTANCE.

> ON THIS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL, WE TAKE YOU TO A SCHOOL ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE THAT IS DEFYING THE ODDS AND HELPING YOUNG GIRLS CHANGE THEIR DREAMS.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS NOW!

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS'

Announcer: THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A.

AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ ROSALIND P. WALTER BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

> OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, DESPITE MEDICAL ADVANCES, BREAST CANCER IS A REAL DIAGNOSIS FOR MANY.

ONE IN EIGHT WOMEN IN THE U.S.

WILL BE DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER IN HER LIFETIME.

FOR WOMEN WHO RECEIVE A DIAGNOSIS, AROUND 80% HAVE NO PRIOR FAMILY HISTORY.

FOR JOURNALIST AMY ROBUCK HER BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS WAS A SURPRISE.

STEMMING FROM AN ON-AIR MAMMOGRAM ON 'GOOD MORNING AMERICA.'

AMY DETAILS HER FIGHT AND WHAT SHE LEARNED THROUGH THE PROCESS, AND HER MESSAGE TO OTHERS FACING THE DISEASE IN 'BETTER: HOW I LET GO OF CONTROL, HELD ON TO HOPE, AND FOUND JOY IN MY DARKEST HOUR.'

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

NICE TO SEE YOU, AS WELL, JACK.

I'M FASCINATED TO TALK ABOUT HOW YOU CAME UP THE TITLE OF THE BOOK.

IT'S CALLED 'BETTER.'

TELL ME HOW ABOUT THE TITLE CAME ABOUT.

MY 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, IN THE MIDDLE OF MY FIGHT I WAS IN A LOW MOMENT AND PUSHING BACK TEARS, AND AVA HAD WRITTEN ME A P POEM.

SHE WANTED TO ENCOURAGE ME AND MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.

AND THE TITLE OF HER POEM WAS 'BETTER.'

AND JUST THAT HOPEFUL WORD STARING BACK AT A TIME I THOUGHT ANYTHING BUT IT BROUGHT JOY TO ME.

I THOUGHT, WOW, MY DAUGHTER IS SO WISE.

SHE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT TO SAY.

IT SEEMED LIKE THE PERFECT TITLE FOR MY BOOK BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT FIGURING OUT HOW TO FEEL BETTER EVEN WHEN TIMES ARE AS TOUGH AS THEY GET.

MOST PEOPLE HAVE HEARD THE STORY ABOUT HOW YOU DID THIS LIVE ON GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

ORIGINALLY YOU WERE RELUCTANT TO DO THE MAMMOGRAM LIVE.

WHY?

I FELT LIKE NO WOMAN LOOKS FORWARD TO HAVING HER FIRST MAMMOGRAM.

I DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT IN FRONT OF 5 OR 6 MILLION PEOPLE FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS.

FIRST OF ALL, I JUST -- IT WASN'T SOMETHING I WAS GOING TO DO.

I DIDN'T HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY OF IT.

I JUST THOUGHT CANCER COULDN'T HAPPEN TO ME.

CERTAINLY BREAST CANCER COULDN'T HAPPEN TO ME.

NO ONE IN MY FAMILY HAD IT.

I HAD THIS, JUST, FEELING OF INVINCEABILITY.

I FELT IT WAS A PRIVATE THING AND IT WAS ROBIN ROBERTS WHO CALLED ME INTO HER OFFICE AND SAID, UH, I GUARANTEE YOU IF YOU WALK INTO THAT MAMMOGRAM VAN AND GET IT AND YOU CONVINCE ONE OTHER WOMAN TO DO IT, YOU'LL SAVE A LIFE, AMY.

I PROMISE YOU.

BY DOING THIS ON TELEVISION, YOU WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT OF YOUR CAREER.

AND I HADN'T THOUGHT OF IT IN THOSE TERMS.

I THINK WE GET INTO JOURNALISM TO HAVE AN IMPACT.

AND I JUST NEVER THOUGHT HAVING A MAMMOGRAM ON LIVE TELEVISION WOULD BE A PART OF IT.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU SAID, I DON'T WANT IT TO APPEAR LIKE IT'S A STUNT.

YEAH.

WE HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE SAYING LOOK AT ME.

IT'S LIKE LOOK AT ME JOURNALISM NOW.

I'M NOT A SUBSCRIBER TO THAT.

AND MY JOB IS TO TELL OTHER PEOPLE STORIES.

NOT TO BE THE STORY.

AND THAT WAS A BIG PART OF MY HESITANCY.

ROBIN SAID TO ME WHEN I TOLD HER ABOUT THE FAMILY HISTORY AND THE REASONS WHY I DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT.

SHE SAID 80% OF WOMEN WHO HAVE BREAST CANCER HAVE NO FAMILY HISTORY.

I REALIZED THERE WAS A LOT I DIDN'T KNOW.

THEN IT BECAME A CHALLENGE TO ME TO SPREAD THE WORD AND TO SPREAD CORRECT INFORMATION TO WOMEN AND GIVE WOMEN THE ENCOURAGEMENT, PERHAPS, THAT I ALSO NEEDED TO TAKE MY HEALTH SERIOUSLY AND TO REALIZE THAT I WAS JUST AS VULNERABLE TO CANCER AS ANY OTHER WOMAN.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU SAID IN YOUR BOOK, AND I'VE HEARD YOU SAY IT BEFORE.

YOU SAY I'M GOING TALK ABOUT HOW MY CANCER MADE ME BETTER.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

IT MADE ME REALIZE THAT ALL I NEED IS WHAT I HAVE RIGHT NOW.

SO MANY LIVE OUR LIVES ABOUT WHAT IS NEXT.

WHEN YOU'RE CHASING THINGS CONSTANTLY, YOU NEVER ACTUALLY REALIZE WHAT YOU HAVE.

BUT WHEN YOU STARE DOWN DEATH AND YOU REALIZE THAT THE MIT OF SECURITY IS JUST THAT.

WE'RE ALL VULNERABLE.

TOMORROW IS NOT A GIVEN FOR ANY OF US.

WHETHER YOU HAVE CANCER OR NOT.

IT'S SO EYE OPENING WHEN YOU FEEL THAT FEAR AND YOU SAY, YOU KNOW, I HAVE RIGHT NOW.

I HAVE RIGHT NOW WITH MY KIDS.

AND I HAVE RIGHT NOW TO SAY THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO.

AND THIS IS WHERE I WANT TO BE.

AND IT JUST CHANGES YOUR WHOLE LIFE.

HOW YOU MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR CAREER, HOW YOU MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN.

IT WAS LIFE CHANGING AND I AM A BETTER MOM.

I AM A BETTER WIFE.

I AM A BETTER FRIEND THAN I WAS BEFORE.

IT'S JUST A NEW REALITY.

AND IT'S SCARY AS HELL TO THINK, OH, GOD, CAN I PLAN FOR MY RETIREMENT?

WILL I HAVE GRANDCHILDREN?

WILL I HOLD MY GRANDCHILDREN.

WILL I SEE MY DAUGHTERS WALK DOWN THE AISLE.

I'LL GET EMOTIONAL NOW BECAUSE THOSE ARE THINGS I JUST TOOK FOR GRANTED.

I ASSUMED THOSE WERE IN MY TRAJECTORY.

AND NOW I DON'T ASSUME THAT.

AND IT'S JUST A NEW REALITY TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE TODAY.

AND THAT'S IT.

YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING TODAY AND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF EACH MORNING WHEN YOUR EYES OPEN AND YOUR ABOUT TO START ANOTHER DAY.

WHAT IS YOUR FIRST THOUGHT?

I AM SO GRATEFUL TO BE HERE.

AND THAT IS THE TRUTH.

AND I THINK IF YOU GET TOGETHER A GROUP OF CANCER PATIENTS OR ANYONE WHO FOUGHT NOR THEIR LIVES, YOU'LL SEE GRATITUDE AND JOY IN A WAY YOU DON'T SEE IN ANY OTHER GROUP.

THERE ARE SMILES ON THEIR FACES EVEN IF THERE ISN'T HAIR ON THEIR HEAD.

AND I HAVE BEEN SO HONORED TO BE A PART OF THAT GROUP BECAUSE I GET IT.

THERE IS JOY ON MY FACE.

THERE'S APPRECIATION IN MY HEART THAT WAS NOT THERE BEFORE.

SO FOR ALL OF US WHO AREN'T DOCTORS, WHO AREN'T HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS, WHO AREN'T RESEARCHERS, WHO LISTEN TO YOUR STORY AND WE'LL SAY TO OURSELVES WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

WHAT IS THE ANSWER TO THAT?

THERE'S A LOT YOU CAN DO.

YOU CAN, FIRST OF ALL, NUDGE ALL THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIVES TO GET THOSE MAMMOGRAMS STARTING AT AGE 40 EVERY YEAR.

AND EARLIER, IF NECESSARY, AS WELL.

IF THERE IS FAMILY HISTORY OR A REASON TO HAVE ONE EARLIER.

THE CANCER WAS IN ME FOR SEVERAL YEARS.

WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE WHO IS, YOU KNOW, IN NEED, THERE'S A LOT YOU CAN DO.

KINDNESS IS SO POWERFUL.

THE KINDNESS I RECEIVED FROM COMPLETE STRANGERS OVERWHELMED ME WITH JOY.

I MEAN, IT WAS THERAPY.

AND PEOPLE ASKED ME WHAT CAN I DO IF I HAVE A FRIEND GOING THROUGH THIS.

TAKE CARE OF HER CHILDREN.

DO SOMETHING KIND FOR HER, HER CHILDREN.

THAT'S WHAT YOU WORRY ABOUT AS A MOM.

I HAD FRIENDS THAT TOOK MY GIRLS TO THE MOVIES AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST GIFT I RECEIVED.

I LEARNED HOW TO ACCEPT LOVE AND CHARITY, WHICH NOT AN EASY THING TO DO, NECESSARILY.

NO ONE WANTS TO BE PITIED.

IF YOU LOOK AT IT AS JUST THIS COLLECTIVE HUG, WHICH IT WAS, IT WAS TREMENDOUS.

SO BE KIND.

THE BOOK IS CALLED 'BETTER.'

IT'S POWERFUL.

IT'S SO WARMLY PERSONAL.

AMY, GOOD TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

THANK YOU.

> WE TURN TO THE STORY OF ONE YOUNG MAN SPEAKING OUT ON AN IMPORTANT BUT RARELY TALKED ABOUT TOPIC.

ZOOEM THOMAS, A MUSIC PRODUCER, DJ, AND THE SON OF ISAIAH THOMAS HAS GONE PUBLIC WITH REVELATIONS HE WAS RAPED TWICE.

FIRST WHEN HE WAS 12 YEARS OLD AND AGAIN IN A SEPARATE INCIDENT LAST YEAR.

HE'S HOPING THAT HIS PAINFUL ADMISSION WILL HELP OTHERS SURVIVORS.

HE'S PARTNERED WITH THE NATIONAL SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESOURCE CENTER AND APPEARS IN A NEW PSA AIMED AT REMOVING THE STIGMA FELT BY MANY MALE VICTIMS.

MY NAME IS ZEKE THOMAS AND I'M A SURVIVOR.

IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW TELLS YOU THEIR STORY, HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF THINGS YOU SAY.

THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME.

IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT.

YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.

I AM HERE FOR YOU.

YOU ARE BRAVE.

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.

HOW CAN I HELP?

YOU ARE A SURVIVOR.

EVERYONE HEALS IN THEIR OWN TIME AND IN THEIR OWN WAY.

THE PAST ISN'T ALWAYS A STRAIGHT LINE AND YOU DON'T NEED TO GO IT ALONE.

ZEKE THOMAS JOINS US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

NICE TO MEET YOU.

PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.

PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

FIRST QUESTION I THINK MOST PEOPLE HAVE IS WHY HAVE YOU CHOSE TON GO PUBLIC WITH THIS AND TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL STORY?

AFTER GOING THROUGH THERAPY AND MEETING WITH OTHER VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS, IT WAS SOMETHING THAT I WANTED TO SHARE.

I DIDN'T KNOW AND THINK IT WOULD BE ON A LARGE STAGE, BUT WHEN I STARTED TALKING IN VARIOUS GROUPS AND VARIOUS MEETINGS I WAS ATTENDING, JUST, YOU KNOW, SUPPORT GROUPS AN STUFF LIKE THAT, PEOPLE WERE ASKING ME TO CAN WE WRITE ABOUT YOU ON THE BLOG.

WE KNOW YOU'RE A POPULAR DJ, MUSICIAN.

I STARTED THINKING TO MYSELF, LIKE, IT COULD SHAPED THE WRONG WAY.

NOT THE WAY I WANT TO TELL MY STORY.

YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT HOW IT MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN OUT THERE.

AND IT WOULDN'T BE THE WAY YOU WANTED IT TO GET OUT THERE.

WHAT WAS YOUR FEAR?

WHAT WAS THE WAY YOU WANTED TO TELL YOUR STORY?

MY MAIN FEAR AND I GO BACK TO WHAT HAD HAPPENED AND THE DAYS AFTER.

NOT KNOWING.

BEING AFRAID.

GOING THROUGH THIS IS MY FAULT.

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO PRESS CHARGES.

HOW, YOU KNOW, TO FIND THIS NEED UNTIL THE HAYSTACK, SO TO SPEAK.

AND I REALIZED THEN THAT THIS WAS MY WAY TO KIND OF CONFRONT MY RAPIST.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO FIND HIM.

AND THIS WAS MY WAY I WANTED TO GET THAT POINT ACROSS.

AND WHY I WAS AFRAID MORE SO WAS THAT I DIDN'T WANT SOMEBODY TO LABEL ME A VICTIM, AT THAT POINT.

YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A SURVIVOR.

YOU DON'T SAY I'M A VICTIM.

YES.

THAT MIGHT SURPRISE PEOPLE.

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR YOU YOU NOT BE VIEWED AS A VICTIM AND YOU DIDN'T WANT TO USE THE WORD VICTIM?

BECAUSE THERE'S DEFINITELY A CHANGE IN ANY TRAUMATIC EVENT THAT HAPPENS.

WHETHER THAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE, OR, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE DEALING WITH INTERNALLY THAT YOU DEFINITELY FEEL LIKE A VICTIM IN THAT MOMENT.

THAT PAIN, THAT TRAUMA YOU'RE FEELING EVENTUALLY YOU EITHER MOVE ON AND DEAL WITH IT, YOU GROW, YOU DON'T LET IT SWALLOW YOU, SO TO SPEAK, AND YOU SURVIVE.

I'VE HEARD YOU SAY, ALSO, WHEN YOU HAD TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO, YOU KNOW, AS A GAY MAN, AS A BLACK MAN, THERE WERE OTHER BARRIERS THAT YOU SAW TO THIS NOTION OF GOING PUBLIC WITH ALL OF THIS.

HOW DID YOU GET PAST THAT?

DEFINITELY IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY, THERE'S A LOT OF STIGMA AND WALLS AROUND NOT JUST SEXUALITY AND GENDER BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A CERTAIN TYPE OF BRAVADO YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO CARRY YOURSELF AS A STRONG BLACK MAN.

A STRONG BLACK WOMAN.

SO MY MASCULINITY, I FELT, HAD BEEN COMPLETELY TAKEN FROM ME IN THAT MOMENT.

WHAT WAS IT?

WAS I, YOU KNOW, LESS THAN?

EVEN MORE?

WHAT STIGMA WAS I GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT NOW?

AND IN THE GAY COMMUNITY, YOU'RE FIGHTING THIS STIGMA YOU'RE SEX CRAZED, THIS, THAT, BUT THAT'S NOT THE REALITY OF THE GAY MAN'S WORLD.

ONCE AGAIN, YOU SAY THAT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO TELL A VICTIM AND THEN TELL A SURVIVOR IS 'I BELIEVE YOU.'

I WANTED TO FEEL --

WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT TO SAY TO THEM I BELIEVE YOU?

BECAUSE WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS TELLING YOUR TRUTH.

YOUR STORY.

EVEN WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO A LOVED ONE, LIKE MY PARENTS OR, YOU KNOW, A DOCTOR, IT'S A SHOCKING MOMENT.

IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE THEM OR WHATEVER.

IT'S YOUR FIRST REACTION IS, WHOA.

IT MIGHT THROW SOMEBODY OFF GUARD, YOU KNOW.

WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME OR YOU'RE DISRESPECTING MY STORY.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS --

YEAH.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS MY FAULT.

YES.

THAT GOES QUESTIONS THAT THE ALLY NEEDS ANSWERED AREN'T REALLY WHAT A VICTIM SURVIVOR WANTS TO TELL AND SHOULD TELL.

YOU MENTIONED YOUR FAMILY.

WE SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION YOUR DAD IS VERY FAMOUS.

WAS WHAT SORT OF TREND DEDICATION DID YOU HAVE ABOUT TELLING THIS TO YOUR FAMILY.

HOW DID YOUR FAMILY REACT?

I BELIEVE DEFINITELY IMPACTED THEM AND STILL IMPACTING THEM AS I'M NOW SPEAKING ABOUT IT AND SPEAKING ABOUT IT IN A FORM OF TRYING TO BE AN ADVOCATE FOR THIS.

I FEEL FOR THEM AS PARENTS HAVING TO RELIVE MY TRAUMA OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN NOW MT.

MEDIA.

I FEEL LIKE THE GREATER WORK THAT IS HAPPENING AND HOW THEY RAISED ME.

THEY'RE PROUD OF ME.

DO YOU GET THE SENSE THAT PEOPLE ARE RESPECTING AS YOU TELL THE STORY NOW PROVIDING YOU WITH A RESPECT AS YOU TELL THE STORY OR DO YOU FIND THAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT YOU EVEN THOUGH THEY USE THE WORD VICTIM TO YOU, BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT THEM TO, IN A SENSE THEY'RE STILL LOOKING AT YOU AS A VICTIM.

WELL, I DEFINITELY FEEL THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO LOOK AT ME AS A VICTIM BUT THE OVERWHELMING OUTPOUR OF SUPPORT AND PEOPLE WHO ARE VICTIMS AND GOING THROUGH THIS, AND PEOPLE WHO ARE SURVIVORS WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH IT AND THE WAY THAT THE NEWS MEDIA, SO I OWE YOU A GREAT THANKS AND JOURNALISTS OUT THERE HAVE TAKEN THIS STORY AND REALLY PUSHED IT TO NOT JUST THE UNITED STATES BUT NOW IT'S AROUND THE WORLD.

I NEVER IMAGINED THIS WOULD BE POSSIBLE.

I GOT PHONE CALLS AND, YOU KNOW, FROM HIGH-RANKING GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO CELEBRITIES TO YOUNG CHILDREN.

IT'S OVERWHELMING.

IS IT HELPING YOU?

IS IT HELPING IN YOUR HEALING PROCESS?

100%. I THINK EVERY TIME THAT I HEAR THAT SOMEBODY ELSE HAS DONE WITH THIS, IT MAKES ME SEE THERE'S, YOU KNOW, HOPE THAT LIFE DOES CONTINUE.

IT TAKES AN AMOUNT OF COUNSELOR.

PEOPLE SAID THAT TO YOU TO BE ABLE TO COME FORWARD, NOT ONLY TO HELP YOURSELF BUT HELP OTHERS.

AND I THINK YOUR FAMILY IS PROUD OF YOU AND I THINK A LOT OF FOLKS OUT THERE WILL WATCH YOU AND SAY, YOU KNOW, HE CAN DO IT.

MAYBE I CAN DO IT, TOO.

I THINK THERE'S REAL VALUE IN WHAT YOU'RE DOING, ZEKE.

PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.

THANK YOU.

♪ I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR I KNOW TOO MUCH TO GO BACK TO PRETEND ♪

HI EVERYONE.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL!

MORE THAN 98 MILLION ADOLESCENT GIRLS AREN'T IN SCHOOL YET THE EVIDENCE IS CLEAR.

WHEN GIRLS GET THE OPPORTUNITIES THEY DESERVE, OUR WHOLE WORLD BENEFITS.

THAT'S WHY WE'VE BEEN WORKING TO LIFT UP GRASSROOTS LEADERS AND ORGANIZATIONS AROUND THE WORLD WHO IMPROVE GIRLS' LIVES EVERY DAY.

TODAY, ON THE DAY OF THE GIRL, I AM THRILLED TO SHARE THE NEWS THAT IN DECEMBER I'LL BE TRAVELING TO VIETNAM WITH MY FRIEND JENNA BUSH HAGER AND A FEW OTHER SPECIAL GUESTS, TOO.

THE OBAMA FOUNDATION WILL BE TEAMING UP WITH THE 'TODAY' SHOW AND YOUTUBE ORIGINALS TO MEET SOME OF THESE GIRLS AND SHARE THEIR INCREDIBLE STORIES WITH ALL OF YOU.

NOW, IN THE MEANTIME, I HOPE THAT ALL OF YOU WILL FIND A WAY TO SUPPORT THESE GIRLS.

AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO FLY TO VIETNAM.

YOU CAN HOST A BAKE SALE, HELP YOUR CHILDREN ORGANIZE A PROJECT IN THEIR CLASSROOM, OR GET INVOLVED IN YOUR OFFICE, AS WELL.

VISIT GIRLSOPPORTUNITYALLIANCE.ORG TO FIND OUT MORE WAYS TO TAKE ACTION.

ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR US ALL.

THE FUTURE OF OUR WORLD IS ONLY AS BRIGHT AS OUR GIRLS.

A DISTRESSING STATISTIC ON THE STATE OF NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS.

ONLY 61% OF STUDENTS RECEIVE HIGH SCHOOL DEGREES.

BUT ONE PRIVATE INSTITUTION THAT AIMS TO HELP YOUNG UNDERPRIVILEGED GIRLS BOOSTS A STUNNING 97% GRADUATION RATE.

CHASING THE DREAM, POVERTY, AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, WE EXPLORE TODAY CORNELLIA CONLEY CENTER.

CONLEY CENTER CHAMPIONS GIRLS AT RISK AND EMPOWERING THEM TO REALIZE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL, COLLEGE, AND BEYOND.

IT TEACHES GRADES 4 THROUGH 8 BUT THEIR WORK DOESN'T STOP THERE.

STUDENT GOES ON TO ATTEND PRESTIGIOUS HIGH SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES.

HERE TO TELL US MORE IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CAROLINE.

LAYS, WELCOME TO YOU.

THANK YOU.

TO ME, IT WAS JAW DROPPING.

AND THE NUMBER OFS I CAN UNDERSTAND AFTER HAVING SEEN THAT.

I GOT A SENSE IN WANDERING AROUND THE HALLWAYS AND WATCHING YOU ALL THERE THAT YOU ALL FELT THIS PLACE WAS MORE THAN A SCHOOL.

IS THAT RIGHT?

LIKE A SECOND HOME.

I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE SOMETIMES.

THEY'RE LIKE YOU HAVE TO GO HOME.

HOW MANY TIMES DO PEOPLE SAY I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE SCHOOL.

NOT A LOT BUT YOU DO.

YOU HAVE GONE THERE, GRADUATED FROM EIGHTH GRADE, HIGH SCHOOL, AND HOLY CROSS.

JUST LAST YEAR.

YEAH.

MARVELOUS.

WHEN YOU FIRST SHOWED UP AT THAT THE SCHOOL, WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT?

I THOUGHT THAT IT WAS A SECOND HOME.

I FELT EVERY PERSON AT THE SCHOOL WANTED TO GET TO KNOW YOU ON A PERSONAL LEVEL.

AND THE FIRST TIME WE HAD ASSEMBLY, WHICH IS OUR MORNING TAKE ATTENDANCE, THE FACT THAT EVERY STAFF MEMBER KNEW YOUR NAME AND MENTIONED YOUR NAME IN THE MORNING, TO THE POINT WHERE IF I WAS MISSING, PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE.

YOU KNOW, THAT WAS INCREDIBLE TO ME.

WHAT IS THERE, THEN, IN ADDITION TO THE COMFORT IN TERMS OF THE ACADEMICS THAT ALLOW PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO BE SO SUCCESSFUL?

I THINK THEY JUST PUSH US.

AS A FIFTH GRADER, I WASN'T PERFORMING ON GRADE LEVEL.

I WOULD BE PULLED OUT OF CLASS TO WORK ON MY READING, ON MY WRITING, AND, TO ME, IT WAS THE FIRST TIME IT HAPPENED TO ME FOR SOMEONE TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHERE THE GAPS WERE IN MY EDUCATION AND TO MEET WITH MY PARENTS AND TELL THEM THIS IS WHERE JENNA IS STRUGGLING.

THIS IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO TO HELP HER.

THAT WAS FIFTH GRADE.

BY THE TIME I WAS IN EIGHTH GRADE IT WAS PUSHING ME TO WORK HARDER AND HARDER AND SEEING SOMETHING IN ME I DIDN'T NECESSARILY SEE AT THE TIME.

I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HOW THE SCHOOL, OUR CENTER AIMS TO SEE THE FLAME IN EACH GIRL.

THAT POTENTIAL IN EACH GIRL.

AND THEY SAW IT IN ME.

I DIDN'T NECESSARILY IN MIDDLE SCHOOL I DIDN'T SEE MYSELF SAYING I'M GOING TO GRADUATE FROM THE COLLEGE OF HOLY CROSS OR EVEN COLLEGE, LIKE, AS A THING WASN'T NECESSARILY -- THEY TELL US YOU'RE GOING TO DO AMAZING THINGS.

I'M LIKE YEAH SURE.

THAT MEANS IN HIGH SCHOOL, TOO, WHEN I WOULD COME BACK, THEY WOULD ASK ME HOW IS SCHOOL GOING?

WHERE ARE YOU STRUGGLING?

LET'S GET YOU A TUTOR.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE NOTION OF FOLLOWING THROUGH.

TO SAY WE'RE GOING TO COMMIT TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT WITH THEM.

NOT JUST THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL, AS YOU SAID.

NOT JUST THROUGH COLLEGE BUT, ALSO, TO THEIR LIVES AFTER IT.

HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

THE REALITY, WE'RE SMALL BUT MIGHTY.

THE REASON WE CAN DO THIS GOOD WORK AND FOLLOW THE GIRLS IS THAT WE'RE SMALL.

I THINK FOR ME THE NEXT FIVEOVER TEN YEARS PEOPLE NEED TO SEE THIS MODEL BECAUSE IT WORKS.

THE KEY IS SMALL AND PERSONAL.

LET ME COME BACK TO YOU.

YOU HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE NOT PART OF THIS SCHOOL.

THEY SAY YOUR SCHOOL SOUNDS INTERESTING.

IT SOUNDS DIFFERENT.

WHAT IS IT LIKE?

HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THAT QUESTION?

I HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT SAY THAT TOW ME.

I SAY THANKS.

THE THING IS, MY SCHOOL IS VERY DIFFERENT.

WE HAVE TEACHERS WHO CARE AND WE HAVE HOPE AND GUIDANCE THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE YEAR.

I THINK THE FACT I GET TO COME IN EARLY TO GET EXTRA HELP IN MATH AND THE TEACHERS ARE THERE TO HELP ME.

IT'S AN EXCELLENT THING FOR MY GRADES.

YOU FIND YOU HAVE ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES YOU WANT TO HAVE IN THIS SCHOOL?

YES.

WE HAVE EXTRA GUIDANCE IN WHAT SHALL I WANT TO ATTEND TO AND WHAT COLLEGE DO I WANT TO GO TO.

AND -- IT HELPS ME GET TO KNOW MYSELF BSHT AND TO KNOW HOW TO TELL OTHER SCHOOLS ABOUT MYSELF.

LOOKING BACK, WOULD YOU HAVE GRADUATED FROM HOLY CROSS IF YOU HADN'T BEEN TO THIS SCHOOL?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I HAD NEVER HEARD OF COLLEGE OF HOLY CROSS UNTIL I WENT TO CCC.

I THINK I WAS IN SEVENTH GRADE.

THEY TOOK US ON A COLLEGE TRIP AND I REMEMBER COMING HOME AND SAYING IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS.

THAT'S WHERE I'M GOING TO SCHOOL.

MY MOM WAS LIKE THAT'S SWEET.

I SAID THAT COLLEGE STOOD OUT TO ME AND I WANT TO GO THERE.

I WANT TO LIVE THAT MISSION.

AND I DO NOT THINK THAT I WOULD HAVE GONE THERE IF IT WEREN'T FOR CCC

WELL, HAVING VISITED FOR A LITTLE BIT OF TIME, I SAW THE JOY AND THE EXPECTATIONS.

05 SAW THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

YOU SHOULD BE CONGRATULATED AND YOUR STAFF AND EVERYBODY WHO WORKS THERE.

WE'RE GOING IT SEE WONDERFUL THINGS FROM YOU JUST AS WE'RE SEEING WONDERFUL THINGS FROM HER.

GRADUATIONS TO YOU.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

AND TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP, GO TO OUR WEBSITE METROFOCUS.ORG.

♪ I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR IT'S ALMOST TOO BIG TO IGNORE ♪

> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A WONDERFUL EXTOENGS 'METROFOCUS.'

OUR TWICE WEEKLY POD CAST WITH ME AS YOUR HOST.

WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE IN-DEPTH CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE A LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN THEY ARE ON TELEVISION AND A LOT MORE INTIMATE.

ON THE POD CAST, I'LL TALK TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS POD CAST COMPLETE WITH NEW YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY HALL AND FROM WALL STREET TO BROADWAY IS ABSOLUTELY FREE!

SO HEAD ON OVER TO iTUNES OR SOUND CLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THE ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH UNIQUE 'METR 'METROFOCUS' FRESH NEW CONTENT EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY.

Announcer: FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ ROSALIND P. WALTER BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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