stories isiah new and tom

When Isaiah New started at Buffalo Prep at the age of 12, the first lesson he absorbed was from a quote on the classroom board: “Mediocrity is unacceptable.” That counsel has stayed with him through his academic, personal and professional life ever since.

A shining star at Nichols School, Isaiah went on to graduate from Columbia University in 2015, encountering diverse perspectives as he studied economics, pre-med, business, sociology, legal theory, and advanced mathematics. He immersed himself in the opportunities there, from a capella to student government. He even had research published as an undergrad in respected medical journals.


Speaking at Buffalo Prep’s annual fundraiser recently, Isaiah addressed today’s Prep students with encouragement, humor, and no small amount of humility. Acknowledging their enormous potential for change in their lives and communities, he advised Preppies to “realize that whatever circumstance you face, you can change it. You can poke and prod your world until you make something great happen.”

Today, Isaiah devotes himself to making something great happen, developing innovative technologies for sickle cell anemia. “It is nothing less than a dream, and the opportunity of a lifetime, to be able to work on something every day that I love, which I hope will positively impact many people by changing the way we manage the world of our health.”

As Isaiah told today’s students, “You will achieve, with your eye on the mark, always remembering that place from which you came, and the people and the education that have helped you along  the way.”


Nicholas Irion

As a member of the very first class of Say Yes Buffalo students in 2013, Nick Irion feels a special mission to carry the torch forward. Born and raised in Buffalo, Nick graduated from Hutch Tech and received an Oishei Scholarship to attend Buffalo State College. He’s now entering his senior year, majoring in Music Education. “I plan to go on for a Master’s Degree, then teach, and eventually go into school administration,” says Nick.

His passion for education is obvious, perhaps matched only by his love for all things musical. A talented singer, Nick is also proficient on both trombone and piano. He enjoys public speaking, and shared his appreciation for Say Yes at an event in 2015. “I love doing that,” he says. “It’s fun, and a great way to promote all the positive things we have going on while encouraging students to get involved. Say Yes is such a terrific asset to the community.” Nick also enjoys meeting other Say Yes awardees, networking and making new friends, as well as exploring internship opportunities. He’ll be polishing his teaching abilities this coming year at Buff State, as a teaching assistant and advisor to undergraduate students. And he’ll put his public speaking skills to good use as a Senior Pastor at Centennial AME Zion Church in Buffalo.