Ms. Heather Butts is a true hidden gem. For almost a decade, she’s been working with WHSAD. Even though she’s been with us for so long, many of us still don’t know much about her. Impressively, Ms. Butts received her BA from Princeton University, her JD from St. John’s University School of Law, her MPH from Harvard University, and her MA in teaching from Teachers College Columbia University. She is Co-Founder and Executive Director of H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, a nonprofit organization formed for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting youth. Ms. Butts is a Regulatory Specialist at Columbia University Medical Center; adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Public Health; Board member of several nonprofits that focus on young people and underserved populations. There are countless projects Ms. Butts is involved in throughout Staten Island and other parts of the city. On top of all these amazing contributions, Ms. Butts leads the Honors College at LIU Post.
Ms. Butts is an incredibly compassionate woman. Over the course of a week, she broadened my knowledge on the college process and assisted a group of juniors and seniors to explore opportunities that they can achieve. I was in awe at the fact that a three-time Ivy League graduate helped me through all of this. On top of that, it was completely free of charge. Over my Christmas break, my fellow schoolmates Mekhi Brown, Megan Golding, Diamond Jefferson, Asher Thomas, and William Cordova got the opportunity to get invaluable advice and guidance from Ms. Butts. Mekhi and I were greatly encouraged to apply to top universities and take a leap of faith. “You guys are hard workers. You deserve to go to top schools. As an adult I can’t see myself as a teen participating in school activities during my holiday vacation. The worst that can happen is you won’t get in, but not applying is worse. You’ll never know if you did get in.” Ms. Butts explained. I was in awe because a somewhat stranger who had just learned my name 10 minutes ago pushed me further than anyone else to whom I had previously spoken. Due to her dedication to seeing students succeed, Mekhi and I will now be applying to Princeton and Columbia. I’ve had a mind-boggling, life-changing experience working with Ms. Butts and I plan on helping her with her community outreach work, which is still a work in progress. My advice to all WHSAD students is to have at least one conversation with Ms. Butts because the most crucial piece of advice I was given by her is “The college process starts well before senior year, high school even! Even kids in Middle School start SAT prep!”
On both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I had the immeasurable pleasure of working with Ms. Heather Butts. To say she is a remarkable woman would be an understatement. From Ms. Heather Butts getting multiple degrees from some of the very top Ivy League Schools to having multiple non-profit organizations, it is easy to tell that she takes a lot of pride in her work, whether it be her own work or work for others. During our meeting on Thursday, she mainly helped Savie Currency and I, who are both seniors, as well as two juniors Megan Golding and William Cardova with college. Ms. Butts effortlessly helped two sets of students with two distinct experiences with the college process as Savie and I are already in the process of submitting applications and applying for scholarships, whereas William and Megan are still in the early stages. She gave advice to William and Megan on the classes they should take to help them be even more viable contenders for the colleges they apply to and encouraged Savie and me to take the risk of applying to top ten universities in America. Ms. Butts encouraged me to apply to two of her former schools: Columbia and Princeton University. Although I want to be an architect, I decided to not apply for the architecture programs at either of the schools due to me feeling that my portfolio wasn’t on par for two of the top schools in the United States. I was left in a gray area on what program I should apply to. I needed a sense of direction and Ms. Butts was there to lead the way. She helped me see how successful I was and currently am in my English classes. Her helping me see my success, that I tend to overlook, ultimately allowed me to come to the decision to apply to both universities for an English major. Without her help, I wouldn’t have known what other major to apply to being that architecture is my one true passion. Ms. Butts helped me look outside of my passion, my comfort zone, and as a result, I am applying to two prestigious universities with more confidence in my ability.
Aside from Ms. Heather Butts helping me with my college process, she also admitted me into her H.E.A.L.T.H For Youth program, one of her non-profit organizations. H.E.A.L.T.H For Youths, which stands for Health, Education, Academic, Life-skills, Training and Help, Inc is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that strives to combat community deterioration, juvenile delinquency, improve the quality of education, health care and life-skills training offered to adolescents and young adults. To further this objective, H.E.A.L.T.H For Youths collaborates with schools, other non-profit organizations, and community organizations to offer adolescents and young adults various programs and workshops in the areas of physical and mental health, social and cultural education, and life-skills. Ms.Butts’ desire to help underserved youth is what led to her starting this non-profit organization. Some of the accomplishments that H.E.A.L.T.H For Youths has include, a partnership with WHSAD for various projects such as Lake Como, Heart and Eye Screenings, and The Little Free Library/COVID Pantry conversion. What is Ms. Butts’ most proud of, you might ask? For Ms. Heather Butts’ “…being able to connect with the individuals we work with.” As someone who has worked with Ms. Butts’ and experienced first hand, her love for helping young adults, such as myself, I can tell those who don’t know Ms. Butts that she truly means it when she says connecting with the individuals that the organization works with is her proudest accomplishment.
Ms Heather Butts is a very considerate person that helped me open my eyes to the opportunities that are available for me in the real world. In the conversations I’ve had with her we’ve talked about everything from daily sleep schedules to how the college majors you choose correlate to the classes you do best in. There was a day where she asked everyone what they were thinking about majoring in college. When she got to me, I told her that I want to major in math, and she encouraged me, and even gave me alternatives to help me stay on my path.
Ms. Butts encouraged us all to go for our dreams even if it seemed the world wanted otherwise. She always sees the best in everyone even when we don’t see it in ourselves. Her positive outlook on life inspires me to do better as a person and live up to the expectations she sets for me.
When I met Ms.Butts in my Work Learn Grow internship I knew there was something about her that I needed to figure out. She looked so passionate and motivational. In 2009, she founded H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, a non-profit that collaborates with schools, community organizations and other non-profits to provide adolescents and young adults with various programs and workshops in the areas of physical health, mental health, social/cultural education and life-skills. Ms.Butts was accepted into top Ivy league schools. She received her B.A. from Princeton University,her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, her M.P.H from Harvard University School of Public Health and her M.A. In Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Ms. Butts has participated in several seminars and conferences on public health and the law, healthcare disparities, college preparation for the family, and research ethics.
During the holiday break, I joined Ms. Butts and others in a number of Google Meets. On the first day, we didn’t really introduce ourselves the way I expected we would. However, on the second day, we introduced ourselves and clicked automatically. I am the type of person who doesn’t ask for help or when others would offer, I’d deny it. People often give up on me due to my lack of motivation and confidence. But not Ms.Butts. During my college process, I was persuaded to sign up for SUNY and CUNY schools and Ms.Butts gave me the impression that it was the bare minimum for me. I am a part of her nonprofit organization “H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths” she is now my mentor who is guiding me into the right ways of college. Ms. Butts asked me what I wanted to be in the future. I told her I want to be an entrepreneur and within 10 minutes she gave me five colleges to add to my list which include Howard University and Hampton university as two HBCU colleges. One thing I admire about Ms. Butts is that she’s a successful African American woman. As a young African American woman, I really look up to her because a lot of successful black women don’t get the recognition they deserve. Ms. Butts is someone who has left a mark on me, and I’ve known her for all of two weeks. She made me feel like I have potential and that I matter. I recommend her to every adolescent in the world for her mentorship.
Miss Heather Butts was one of my highlights of 2020. She and her non-profit Health for Youths have been a partner at WHSAD for over eight years. In a short time, we had together she gave me so much confidence and hope for the future. She gave me so much insight into the future. One piece of advice that she gave me was regarding my transcript, as I did not do as well as I would have liked in my freshman and sophomore years. She gave me “the bare minimum, “ she told me to flat out that I should do more college classes considering that our school is a CTE school. As a child of immigrants, Ms. Butts gave me some very valuable advice and assistance. She recommended me internships that are meant only for kids who have these special circumstances like mine. She also taught me presentation skills. Usually, I get extremely nervous when it comes to presentations. She gave me so many ideas for my future. I feel WHSAD students should get to know her as she’s a great resource for people who want to advance themselves