When Peter Wilson applied to college nearly 30 years ago, he says his advisor discouraged him from trying to get into certain schools.
"I worked hard. I had decent standardized test scores and I walked out totally deflated," Wilson said.
He applied to Columbia University over his adviser’s objections and got in. While he was there he met high school students in Harlem with no plans to go to college.
He decided he would help low-income students through the application process.
"A college education is really key to being able to have more mobility and more options later in life," Wilson said.
Sixteen years ago, he started the College Readiness Program at Sunnyside Community Services, a non-profit social services organization in western Queens.
The program offers free SAT prep classes, college application assistance and financial aid workshops.
"The idea is not just for students to get into good schools but it's also to go to college and stay there and thrive," Wilson said.
Five thousand students have been helped by the program. Some of them return to assist the newest crop of applicants.
"Peter and this program have this magical way of just the idea of something and exposing you to things opens your whole world," said Alexis Atkinson, a College Readiness Program alumna.
And whether the students go to Brown University or Brooklyn College, Wilson's team helps them navigate their financial aid process.
"Getting our students, kind of, really looking for scholarships and understanding that the college process doesn't end once all your apps are in," Wilson said.
Many of the students Wilson mentors become the first in their families to go to college.
"We've watched their families literally everything change- being able to help support their households, having their younger brothers and sister go on and follow their footsteps," Wilson said.
So for shaping the future for thousands of students across the city, Peter Wilson is our New Yorker of the Week.