The cream of southeast Wisconsin’s student crop attend 100 Black Men’s honors invitational in Chicago

Written by admin   // October 27, 2011   // 0 Comments

Students representing Milwaukee, Beloit, Madison and Kenosha High Schools were given a send-off reception at the Wisconsin African American Womenʼs Center before embarking to Chicago to participate in the Fifth Annual Honors Student Reception sponsored by 100 Black Men Chicago Chapter. The students were joined by parents and organizers of the trip. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)

by Taki S. Raton

For the third consecutive year, the top Milwaukee African American students attended the Fifth Annual Honors Student Reception (HSR) sponsored by the 100 Black Men Chicago Chapter.

And for the second year in a row, the HSR invitations were extended to Beloit, Madison, and Kenosha school districts for their high ranking pupils to participate.

The invitational HSR is held yearly on the second Friday in October in conjunction with their public Annual College Scholarship Fair held the next day.

This year’s HSR was held at the UIC Forum on the campus of the University Of Illinois Chicago Circle. The event is specifically designed for students who have a minimum grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale and a 23 or higher score on the ACT exam. Only the first 200 registered are allowed to attend.

With the support and initiative of the Milwaukee Chapter of 100 Black Men’s 12 seniors who met the qualifications were among Chicago area African American students that met with college and university representatives from around the country, many of whom were from Ivy League schools.

The purpose of this interaction is to inspire opportunities to attract both college admission and scholarship prospects.

The college and university representatives are very much aware they were speaking to top-of-the-line high achieving African American students.

A sampling of the 45 colleges and universities that attended the reception include Morehouse College, Notre Dame University, Carleton College, Dartmouth College, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, Wellesley College, Spelman College, University of Pennsylvania, Hampton University, US Air Force Academy, Vanderbilt University, American University, Chicago State College, Hampton University, US Army ROTC/West Point, Princeton University, University of Michigan, and Howard University.

In attendance this year from Milwaukee and the invited districts were Nikki Grant, Naomi Grant, and Aris Battiste from Riverside University High School, Gabrielle Winbush and Ebony Carson from Messmer, and Olanrewaju Awosika and Asia Burgos from Divine Savior Holy Angles High School.

Bria Stephens and Pierre S. Charles where selected from Beloit Memorial High School. Marshaun Hall and Oon-Ife Olaiya were listed from Madison West High School and Madison LaFollette High School was represented by Dominic Stenson.

“This has honestly been a great opportunity for me,” said Nikki Grant. “I have attended college fairs prior to this event,” she adds. “But none like the Honors Student Reception tonight. Although I entered the evening a little intimidated and apprehensive, I was completely comfortable after conversing with an admission counselor or two. I do not regret taking advantage of this invitation and I am certainly grateful for this experience.”

Stenson recalls that that the HSR was “a fantastic opportunity to expand my knowledge of this country’s great colleges.” Bria Stephens echoes similar sentiments in her comments that “it was a great learning experience and now I am interested in applying to other colleges. I know now in particular what I have to do to get into Howard.”

“I would advise every senior to strive for the privilege to attend the HSR,” says Hall. “I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to speak with these college representatives. Each school rep was able to offer information not found on a website. Not only was I given valuable information concerning scholarships, admission and important deadlines, I was also able to familiarize myself with the type of people and atmosphere each school offered. All in all, I believe this was a very valuable experience.”

“I enjoyed this evening. It was a great opportunity for our young people searching for the right college,” said Shirley Brickson, Bria’s grandmother from Beloit who joined her mother Patricia Grady. Grady and Brickson who were among six parents and relatives who accompanied students as chaperons.

Tracy A. Carson, mother of Ebony thanked the organizers for the opportunity and experience of meeting with top college and university recruiters. “My daughter was able to meet with administrators and staff from some of the country’s top colleges and universities and acquire much needed information to help in her college search.”

Added Carson, “We enjoyed every aspect of the event to include the meet-and-greet at Milwaukee’s African American Women’s Center and the evening’s special college fair in Chicago. Every part from the beginning was very well organized and I might add that the food in Chicago was just simply delicious. All I can say is that 100 Black Men did their thing and I know that we are off to a great start for college.”

“I asked God that every facet of this trip would be enriching and needless to say it was,” noted Gabrielle’s mother Erma J. Winbush. “The warmth of the get-acquainted session at the African American Women’s Center was super. The dedication to the mission was evident as Milwaukee’s 100 Black Men’s president, Dr. Kenneth Harris shared encouraging words to the students who were present.”

Winbush praised the “grand style” of the transportation to and from the UIC Forum, as well as having the opportunity to speak one-on-one with college representatives from around the country, acquiring very useful information on admission requirements, scholarship opportunities and financial aid.”

Also joining their twin daughters Naomi and Nikki from Riverside were parents Steven and Susan Grant Bacon.

“Well, this event was not quite what I expected,” recalls Naomi. “It was indeed greater and exceeded all of my expectations.” Naomi said she and her portfolio were well received. “I feel especially honored to have been invited to this most informative evening knowing that my strides for success are being recognized.

“I cannot express enough thanks and gratitude to the Milwaukee and Chicago chapters of 100 Black Men of America for presenting this opportunity for me and those of my peers who met the criteria,” Naomi continued. “On behalf all of the students present, I thank you for providing such a tremendous service to our Black youth.”

As noted earlier before the students and parents boarded the bus provided by Providence Baptist Church, they were guests at a send-off reception at the Wisconsin African American Women’s Center (WAAWC), 3020 West Vliet Street. Milwaukee 100 Black Men chapter president Harris, area founder and OGM of MUSA, LLC Tony Muhammad and WAAWC co-founder Josephine Hill were on hand to give congratulatory remarks to the seniors.

A special thanks is extended to Dr. Earl Wheatfall and the 100 Black Men Milwaukee Chapter for continuing event co-sponsorship and support, and to Hill and the WAAWC for the send-off venue. Appreciation and thanks is also given to Charles E. Fowlkes of CEF Holding for providing food and refreshments at the meet-and-greet.

A note of special appreciation to bus driver Providence’s John Barbee who for the last three years—including this year—footed a truly magnificent, smooth, comfortable and schedule specific journey to and from our destination given rush hour traffic concerns.

Thanks is further given to school counselors Keith Steward in Madison, Ruth Herrie at Divine Savior Holy Angels, Erin Wolf at Beloit Memorial High School, Phil Stollenwert at Messmer, and Riverside University High School teacher Billie J. Saffold for their invaluable assistance in identifying the high ranking eligible students in their building.

In this regard, we also extend recognition to Milwaukee High School of the Arts’ principal Barry Applewhite whose office was instrumental in identifying MHSA’s student Shakia Rayford for this year’s HSR. Unfortunately, Shaklia could not attend the event.

The combined co-sponsorship between the Chicago and Milwaukee 100 Black Men chapters have provided the opportunity over the past three years to identify a grand total of 75 Wisconsin students who successfully met the 3.3 GPA and 23 minimum ACT cum score for selection to this annual invitational.

Out of the 75 state students, 49 students from Milwaukee, Kenosha, Beloit, and Madison have actually attended the HSR through this Milwaukee-Chicago partnership initiative from 2009 through 2011.

Both the Milwaukee and Chicago chapters of the 100 look forward to next year where it can be assured that this year’s 75 Wisconsin qualified student count will top over 100 in 2012 and significant numbers added to the actual attendance listing.

It is envisioned that we continue to provide this unique experience to our African American seniors as genially expressed by Messmer High School’s Ebony Carson, “I felt this opened a huge opportunity for me to get into a top college. This also encourages me to be an inspiration to generations after me.”

“Coming to this event was extremely eye opening,” said Madison West’s Oona-Ife. “I found new schools to apply to including Howard, Notre Dame and a few others.

“I really appreciated how enthusiastic the colleges were about their schools and also how encouraging they were about having us apply to their campuses. They were knowledgeable and kind. I took a lot away from this experience.”

Taki S. Raton is a school consultant in the African Centered instructional model. Former founder and principle of Blyden Delany Academy in Milwaukee, he is an adjunct instructor at Springfield College and a writer and lecturer on the national stage detailing African World historiography, urban community concerns with emphasis on education, the social development of Black youth and African American male issues. He can be reached by email for presentation and consultant inquires at:


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