By Taki S. Raton
This was indeed for our 11 seniors and the nine parent chaperons joining us, the best and most rewarding invitational yet to the 100 Black Men Chicago Chapter’s Eighth Annual Honors Student Reception (HSR).
Representing such area high schools as Ronald Reagan, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, the University School of Milwaukee, Riverside University High School, Milwaukee School of Languages, Divine Savior Holy Angles, and Glendale’s Nicolet High School, our scholars at the event’s 9 p.m. closing walked away and boarded the coach bus for the return ride to Wisconsin with a total of twenty-three “on-the-spot” acceptance forms into college.
One of our seniors was even awarded along with her college admissions a $10,000 scholarship.
“This event was really on eye-opener,” said Taylor Bragg-Brock who received the $10,000 scholarship to Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. “This occasion provided so many opportunities for all of us and I am forever grateful to have been invited,” she adds.
The Divine Savior Holy Angels senior, after brief interviews and a review of her high school portfolio, was also accepted “on-the-spot” to Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Founded July 4, 1881, Tuskegee, by the way, has been designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site – a National Historic Landmark, the only school in the United States to hold this distinction.
The university is home to over 3,100 students from the U.S. and 30 foreign countries and is ranked among the “Best 379 Colleges & Universities by the Princeton Review and 5th among the 2015 U.S. News & World Report Best HBCU’s.
This is the sixth consecutive year since 2009 that high achieving top ranking Milwaukee and statewide district seniors were invited to attend the HSR held on the campus of the University of Illinois’ UIC Forum in Chicago.
And for the fifth year since 2010, Milwaukee shared this invitation with Madison and Beloit school districts.
Regretfully however, the three students from Madison West High School and the one senior from Beloit Memorial High School – all who were identified by their school counselors as criteria acceptable for our 2014 invitational – were unable to attend due to their respective scheduling concerns.
The HSR gathering is held yearly on the second Friday in October in conjunction with their public annual College Scholarship Fair the following Day. This invitational is specifically designed for African American seniors who have a minimum grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale and a 23 or above cumulative scoring on the ACT exam.
The average GPA for our eleven participating seniors this year was 3.61 and the average ACT scoring was 25.
With the full support and backing for the second year of Milwaukee Public School’s College Access Center (CAC) – North, 2730 West Fond Du Lac Avenue, our Milwaukee area seniors met one-on-one with college and university representatives from around the country.
The purpose of this occasion is for seniors to explore opportunities to attract both college admission and scholarship prospects. College and university representatives are very much aware that on this Friday, they are speaking to top-of-the-line scholastically achieved African American students.
A sample listing of the 42 campuses represented at the UIC Forum include Spelman College, Emory University, the University of San Diego, Howard University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Oberlin College, the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, Chicago State University, Notre Dame, US Air Force Academy, Tufts University, Carleton College, Amherst College, Princeton, Southern Methodist University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Wellesley College, Dominican University, the University of Michigan, Central State University, Dartmouth College, George Washington University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.
“These are colleges and universities each year that have consistently shown an active interest in recruiting the very best and brightest of our students,” said Ken Malone of Chicago’s 100 Black Men.
Malone adds that these campuses “have proven to create leaders from all across the country and have provided students with the best possible financial and scholarship opportunities available.”
Allegra Washington, a senior at Milwaukee School of Languages, shares that, “I was accepted into four colleges all in one day and would not have otherwise gotten this opportunity had I not attended this wonderful event.”
Washington was accepted into Bennett College, Hampton University, Tuskegee University and Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
Nine of our Milwaukee seniors attending the HSR were accepted into Hampton; there were five who were awarded admissions into Tuskegee, four into Monmouth College, four into Bennett and one acceptance into Notre Dame located near South Bend, Indiana.
“I found the event to be very, very beneficial,” said Divine Savior Holy Angels senior Elise Ashley. “It was just great that some schools offered on-site applications and acceptance as well as detailing scholarship amounts. The school reps were very informative and engaging.” Ashely was accepted into Hampton, Tuskegee and Bennett College.
All of our seniors followed the advice of MPS College Access Centers’ director Sharnessia Dunlap-Parker who upon arriving at the UIC site prior to de-boarding suggested to the students, “Be sure and talk to each and every college representative at the event, even the campuses that you were not aware of or may not be totally interested in attending. You never know what opportunities are available to you or what scholarship prospects you might attract.”
Dunlap-Parker adds that, “You want to leave this honors student invitational with multiple selections of college and universities that will accept your application along with your vision and decision of that one school that you might really want to attend.”
Ronald Reagan High School senior Alethia Tilford says that the event, “was an excellent opportunity for us to be introduced to colleges and universities of which we may have been totally unaware. This occasion additionally allowed us to experience some of the national competition with other students when applying to colleges.”
She adds that the atmosphere of the reception was beneficial, “because it demonstrated the importance of how well we should be prepared to represent ourselves in a competitive arena.
It was also very uplifting that we were able to see young, high-achieving African American students who were really interested and determined to attend prestigious colleges and universities. And the food was also great. So thank you, Outback!”
Tilford has her eyes set on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Carlton College, Marquette University and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Additional to the above quoted, this year’s 2014 HSR Milwaukee senior invitational list Alexis R. Banner and Ahamri L. Benton, both from Ronald Reagan High School, Morgan J. Hines from Divine Savior Holy Angels, Saudia S. Jones from Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Sydnei D. Parker from the University School of Milwaukee, and Andrew N. McKee from Nicolet High School.
Madison West High School seniors who were invited but could not attend include Malcolm A. Clark, Brianna T. Crooks, and Morgan M. Sparks. Kolton Bell from Beloit Memorial High School was also extended an invitation but was unable to join us.
“I thought the Honors Student Reception was very well organized and extremely valuable, says Felita Daniels Ashley, mother of Elise Ashley who along with her father, Carl Ashely were among the nine parent chaperons to Chicago.
Ashley adds that, “my daughter met with over 10 representatives from various colleges and universities across the nation and we are very grateful to this initiative’s organizers for bringing the brightest and most high achieving African American Milwaukee area student to this most prestigious affair.”
Yvette Washington, chaperon and mother of Allegra Washington says that the HSR, “was very well structured and that our trip to this event was very well planned and executed. The admission counselors were open and informative with select campuses providing on-the-spot admissions. The evening was just simply awesome!”
At the Friday 2014 HSR Send-Off Program at the MPS College Access Center – North departure site, congratulatory remarks were presented to the seniors by Dr. Warren Braden, Associate Professor at Springfield College Milwaukee Campus, 15th District Alderman Russell Stamper II, and Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum founder and director, Clayborn Benson.
The center was instrumental in identifying qualified MPS seniors who would receive a HSR invitation and further assisted invited seniors in the preparation of their portfolio package to include their GPA and ACT scores, college transcripts, a resume, letters of recommendation and a writing essay sample.
At the initial September 23 Meet & Greet orientation held at the College Access address where invited seniors and their parents were formally given an overview of the event and transportation arrangements, the invitees were also advised as to the “face” to present when speaking with a college representative.
Special appreciation is extended to Dunlap-Parker and Camille Pierce, CAC site coordinator, for their dedication, service and resources of the center towards contributing to the success of Milwaukee’s participation in this year’s HSR invitational; to Gerard Randall, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Partnership Academy and the MPS Division of College and Career Readiness for transportation assistance.
Appreciation is additionally given to the high school senior counselors respectively at Divine Savior Holy Angels, Beloit Memorial High School, Madison West High School and Nicolet for identifying and recommending this year’s qualified students.
As of our previous fifth year 2013 count, 114 students total from Southeast Wisconsin since 2009 have been selected for HSR invitationals and 76 have actually attended. In this our sixth year, 33 students total have been criteria eligible with 11 students attending in 2014.
To date, 147 students from Southeast Wisconsin have been invited to Chicago’s 100 Black Men HSR since 2009 with 87 attending per our 2014 registration listing.
As noted in this writing’s opening, our attendance this year was a rewarding experience and one to be the most memorable. And as stated by Rufus King University High School senior Kashayla Peete:
“The event was more than I had expected. All of the representatives were very open. I got accepted into Hampton University, Monmouth College and also into Notre Dame. Thank you 100 Black Men of Chicago for allowing me to have this opportunity.”