Franklin Prado ‘10 is very aware that could have very easily had a different life. When he talks about his experiences at Mustard Seed, it’s with deep gratitude. “Growing up in Jersey City in section eight housing made me realize that I have been blessed and had many opportunities that others with a similar background don’t have,” says Franklin. “Mustard Seed gives students from all backgrounds a great education. There aren’t a lot of institutions with a mission like this. I’m so grateful for the school’s emphasis on social justice, community service, and helping others. And Mustard Seed teachers don’t just talk about helping others; they give students opportunities to put love into action. I remember baby food drives. Food drives. The Lent collection. They made an impact.”
Franklin believes that everyone has a calling and a social responsibility to help others. During elementary and high school (St. Peter’s Prep), he volunteered at the Sharing Place, a local food pantry. MSS teacher Cindy Kuperus would often volunteer on the same day and remembers relying on Franklin to translate for her when Spanish-speaking guests came in.
Now a junior at Rutgers University, Franklin’s the first generation of his family to attend college. He’s studying political science and public relations with an eye toward working at a public relations firm and maybe even law school. “I believe that political science and law are two fields where one can attack social justice issues head on. Impact the lives of those who need help.”
Providing opportunities for children who live in poverty is a passion. He believes that every child should have the ability to prosper, regardless of background. And that families who are caught in the vicious cycle of poverty should have access to resources that enable them to break out. One day, Franklin hopes to write public policy that benefits the underserved.
When he’s not studying or working, Franklin can be found playing sports, reading, or writing. Or involved in an activity with the Center for Latino Arts and Culture, a group that promotes Latino culture on campus. Or working with the Educational Opportunity Program Student Association, a group that helps support first generation students from lower income families.
Reflecting on his time at Mustard Seed, Franklin speaks fondly of his teachers. Cindy Kuperus, a friend from church and later his third grade teacher, put the wheels in motion for him to begin MSS in kindergarten. “I’m forever thankful for her help and seeing potential in me.”
Eighth grade teacher Sam Choi inspired a love of history and social studies. Franklin credits Mr. Choi with preparing him well for the transition from middle school to high school. “Mr. Choi also showed me how to be respectful, courteous, and helped me mature. He was tough on me at times, but I’m thankful for that now! And I appreciate that he would always play basketball and football with us at park.”
Franklin loved playing on the junior and senior teams of the MSS Rebels basketball team. And the overnight trips to the farm and Spruce Lake. “My favorite parts of those trips was just being able to interact and spend time with my friends and teachers and build stronger bonds outside of the classroom setting.”
Mostly, though, when he thinks about Mustard Seed, he just wants to say thank you. “Not only did Mustard Seed give me a great education, but it gave me an outlook where I want to make a difference in the world. I am blessed and grateful.”