Mary is also mentoring high school students at the Women's Academy of Excellence, the only public all-girls school in the Bronx. "When you're educated, you're confident," she says. "You know what you're speaking about. You know who you are."

Follow Mary on a visit to the school.  Watch

Above all, Mary wants these girls to do something she never did—graduate with a high school diploma. "When I was growing up, it wasn't cool to be educated, so I fell into that slump," she says. "When you're in a peer pressure situation where you're forced to do what everyone else does to survive, then you end up like I did."

In spring 2010, many of these girls will graduate and go to college thanks to Mary's help. "I'm living vicariously through them," Mary says. "I wish I was them. I wish that I was graduating."


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