By Andrew Kramer

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Current and former Philadelphia high school students who had to beat the odds to achieve success were celebrated Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

They were able to reach great heights thanks to nonprofit youth mentoring organization Summer Search, who recently partnered with the Philadelphia Eagles care program.

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Tajah White joined Summer Search when she was a student at Philadelphia High School for girls.

“It helped me battle my mental illnesses, I have depression and I have anxiety issues,” she tells KYW Newsradio. “I didn’t know how to cope with that and I didn’t have a support system, but then Summer Search opened me up to a part of me I didn’t know was inside.”

Now in college, White has this message for current high schoolers involved with the program:

“Be open to anything that they feel. Don’t stop your feelings because you’re afraid. Don’t be afraid to be who you are.”

Dominique Silas is also proud Summer Search alumni:

“It helped me through high school, it helped me through college and I’m making my way in the career field all because of Summer Search. They helped me make sure I graduated, and I did, with honors.”

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Now, she considers herself a leader:

“It’s extremely rewarding to be on the other end watching them grow and see and do what I’ve already done.”

Mariana Bracetti Academy senior Shakya Geiger is currently part of Summer Search Philadelphia.

“My mentor has definitely been with me step by step through the college process, helping me weigh my options, get my feet wet,” she says.

And she was glad to be at Thursday’s event to help spread the word:

“Just to share my story and get people to know about Summer Search and hopefully they will love it just as much as I love it.”

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Geiger recently committed to Kutztown University.