Bay Ridge student thrives 14 years after being born prematurely

A Bay Ridge student has defied the odds and is accomplishing great things in and out of the classroom.

Fourteen-year-old Mikey Palumbo was born prematurely at 28 weeks, weighing just one pound, 13 ounces on June 10, 2003. Exactly 14 years to the day, June 10, 2017, Mikey and his family celebrated his graduation from the Genesis program at Xaverian High School as well as his stellar accomplishments.

For the Palumbo family, the road was difficult after Mikey’s birth. “It’s incredible because it was so frightening,” said Mikey’s mother Elizabeth. “I never even thought about premature babies before and he was born at 28 weeks. I was so touched that he graduated on the same day. If you would’ve told me in 14 years on this day he’d be graduating and doing great, I don’t know if I would’ve believed it. I had no concept of that at the time. He stayed at the NICU for seven weeks and just had to gain weight.”

For Mikey, his experience at Genesis was a positive one that he will miss. “I think it really helped me in reaching a high standard of education,” he said. “At some point, it was challenging but most of the time, it felt like it came easy.”

In addition to Mikey’s dedication to his grades, his teachers made challenging classes that much easier. “The teachers and the friends that I had at Genesis will have a big impact on me later in life,” he said. “They were very good at helping the students understand the subject, and if a student needed help, they would always be there.”

This fall, Mikey will be attending the Fort Hamilton High School Honors Program, which he is both excited and nervous about. “It definitely felt great to get into the honors program and I know a few of my friends are going there so I’m happy about that,” he said. “I was very proud. I’m both excited and nervous because it’s really new. I think I’m going to miss (Genesis) a lot now that I graduated.


Mikey is looking forward to continue his studies, especially in his favorite subjects, science and history. “I like science because I think it’s interesting to learn about everything and how our world is made. Biology is what I love most about it,” he said. “For history, what I like is that I can see how the actions of the past reflect on today.”

He also is a part of several organizations that he hopes to continue involvement with, including the Boy Scouts. “I was on the LEGO Robotics team all three years at Genesis and I’m thinking of joining track at Fort Hamilton,” he said. “I know that the sports program is pretty prestigious and they have a marine biology club that sounds very interesting to me.”

Liz added how proud she and his father, Michael, are of their son. “I’m so impressed,” she said. “He did so much more than I did at that age. He was in orchestra and robotics, and he’s a Boy Scout. The way he uses his time is impressive. He really enjoys learning.”

She also expressed her appreciation of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Maimonides Medical Center all these years later. “We were so grateful for the staff at the NICU at Maimonides when he was born,” she said. “Now he’s going on a 50-mile trek with the Boy Scouts on the Appalachian trail on July 8, 10 miles a day. I just hope anyone going through this now sees a picture of him and hears his story, and knows there is success.”

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