The Power of Perseverance

Zaedyn Carpenter is headed to Clarkson University this fall. His journey to college saw him overcome many obstacles, which led him to finishing high school with a 4.0 GPA in his home district and getting a full ride to Clarkson.

Zaedyn came to the Rise Center for Success during his eighth-grade year. He couldn’t regulate his emotions and faced his problems with physicality. He started in an 8:1:1 program at Rise, but that wasn’t the right fit.

It wasn’t until he joined Rise’s 6:1:1 program that his social skills improved, and he was able to continue challenging himself academically.


Zaedyn took Regents-level classes in his program, so he was able to earn his Regents diploma with Honors at Northeastern Clinton. He started working consistently with School Counselor Kim Denton in 2018. Denton noted how well Zaedyn did academically, but he needed significant growth with social skills.

“The time at Rise made him reflect on how he controlled his emotions and how he interacted with other people and peers,” Zaedyn’s mother Melissa Cayea said. “When he went back to district, he didn’t have a single issue his senior year, and he had many issues in a week prior to this program.”

The 6:1:1 program is designed to help students succeed academically and gain life skills for when they graduate. Zaedyn’s favorite part of the program was the Adventure-Based Learning. This is when the group can be physically active by going kayaking, hiking, walking or rock climbing.

The program specializes in restorative practices. For 45 minutes a day, students sit in a circle and talk about feelings or problems. It creates a safe space for students to express their feelings in a healthy manner.

“At first, Zaedyn hated the restorative practices. But as time when on, he became good at advocating himself and finding the right words to express his feelings,” Denton said.


Zaedyn’s behaviors improved immensely over time. By his junior year, he asked to join a CV-TEC program. He became the first student in his program to attend CV-TEC.

“I loved CV-TEC because I like art and I like computers, so I was able to do both of those things and learn how to use Adobe products,” Zaedyn said about the Digital Production & Multimedia Communications program. His favorite project was designing a Mayor’s Cup logo.

The summer before going back to NCCS, Zaedyn attended SUNY Plattsburgh’s Upward Bound program. He touched base with Denton twice a week and enjoyed the opportunity.

“Originally, I was very nervous to go back to NCCS, but I went to Upward Bound, and I got integrated and reconnected with people,” Zaedyn said.

Zaedyn went back to NCCS for his senior year and split his days between his home district and CV-TEC. He enjoyed graduating with his class, but the success did not end there for Zaedyn.

“There’s pride in the sense of what I’ve accomplished, but it’s not necessarily pride in being the first one to do these things,” Zaedyn said. “I’m just proud of what I’ve done.”

He is the first student in his program to be accepted into a collegiate program, where he will pursue his passion studying Digital Arts.

“I was always worried that he would be held back by the education here, and I never thought that he would be able to get where he is with where he came from,” Cayea said. “So, I’m glad that everything worked out, because I was so scared that it wasn’t going to and I was scared that he wasn’t going to get these kinds of opportunities by being in a program right here, which he ended up defying the odds and making it work. So, I’m very happy and very proud.”


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