New Bedford museum one of 12 winners of prestigious award

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The High School Apprenticeship Program at the New Bedford Whaling Museum is one of 12 winners across the county of the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

According to museum officials, it is the only awardee from New England. Members from the program received the award on Thursday in Washington D.C.

The apprenticeship program provides access to resources and experiences that deepen community engagement, promote personal and professional development and cultivate college and career success for low-income students. Emotional and academic support is provided to the apprentices to allow them be successful.

“If it weren’t for the Apprenticeship Program, I never would have found a passion for life like I have now,” said Alex Binette, a former Whaling Museum Apprentice and current Bristol Community College student. “They took a chance on me with my less than stellar academic record, but I began my training with the museum in 2015 and it has changed me forever. I’ve been through a lifetime of public schooling and I had never learned like I did as an apprentice.”

Through the program, students learn about whale biology, the history of the American whaling industry, art and artists from the region, New Bedford’s connection to the Underground Railroad and learn stories of immigrants who’s culture is exhibited in the museum.

“100 percent of our Program’s alumni have graduated high school, which was an original goal of the program. What we are continually impressed by is the program’s notable impact that goes well beyond simply graduating,” said Sarah Rose, Vice President of Education and Programs.

The program also assists students through the college application process and arranges college campus tours.

“I plan to attend Bridgewater State University in the fall,” said Maria Cardoso, a third-year museum apprentice who moved to the U.S. from Cabo Verde when she was 10. “I could not have achieved all of this without the help of all the staff at the Whaling Museum.”