For the fifth consecutive year since 2009, the top ranking Milwaukee African American high school seniors were invited to attend this year’s Seventh Annual Honors Student Reception (HSR) held at the UIC Forum in Chicago, October 11. And for the fourth year since 2010, Milwaukee shared this invitation with Madison, Beloit, and Kenosha school districts to extend this opportunity to their high achieving fourth-year students. Sponsored by the 100 Black Men Chicago Chapter, the invitational HSR is scheduled yearly on the second Friday in October in conjunction with their public annual College Scholarship Fair the following day. Held on the campus of the University Of Illinois Chicago Circle, the HSR 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 scoring on the ACT exam. Only the first 200 registered for the Chicago HSR are allowed to attend. With the full support and backing of Milwaukee Public School’s College Access Center (CAC) -North, 14 seniors from Milwaukee and area Southeast Wisconsin districts at the event met one-on-one with college and university representatives from around the country, many of whom were of Ivy League status. The purpose of this HSR invitational is to explore opportunities to attract both college admissions and scholarship prospects. College and university representatives are very much aware that on this particular occasion, they are speaking to top-of-the line high achieving African American students. The listing of 49 campuses represented include DePaul, Indiana, Hampton, Cornell, Bucknell, Howard, Knox, Lake Forest, John Hopkins, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Spelman, Princeton, Tufts, Southern Methodist, Yale, the Universities of Illinois, Dayton, Minnesota-Minneapolis, Virginia, Dayton, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia , Williams College, Illinois State University, IIT and Emory University. “These are colleges and universities 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 in a quoted posting on the chapter’s annual HSR hosting. Malone adds that these college and universities, “have proven to create leaders from all across the country and have provided students with the best possible financial and scholarship opportunities available.” Beloit Memorial High School senior Pierre S. Charles for example who joined us in 2011 that year for the HSR received an all-expense paid invitation to visit Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio with hopes of attracting his admissions application upon review of his 3.8 GPA and 27 ACT cum scoring. This Beloit, Wisconsin senior in 2012 instead accepted a full-ride scholarship to attend Michigan State University the following fall term with a major in jazz studies. And to further underscore the point of Malone’s observation of the “best and brightest” high achievers, we are proud to report that we are seeing in our HSR Southeast Wisconsin invitational an increase in both GPA and ACT scoring. Throughout the nearly three-month process of student selection, a total of 22 students were identified for exclusive invitational to the 2013 HSR. Fourteen, as reported, actually attended. The Kenosha school district was not a participant this year. In addition to the two 3.3 qualifiers, we are also seeing a GPA scaling in the 3.4 through the 3.9 range with one student who maxed a perfect 4.0 score. The ACT range was just as impressive. Two of our Southeastern seniors this year met the 23 cum competency, but the predominant scoring spread was in the 24 to 30 range with one student ranking a 34 ACT cumulative. From the Milwaukee area school district in attendance were Emmanuel Adams, Adetola Coker, Chariesse Ellis, Charlton Goodman, Jasmine Heard, and Imani London, all from Rufus King University High School Mary Frances Feldmeire, Marie Gates, Anessa Gladney, and Kennedy Key joined us from Divine Savior Holy Angels High School and Nia Moody from the Milwaukee School of Languages. Pierre’s sister, Rebecca Childs from Beloit Memorial High School was included on this year’s registration listing and Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin was represented by senior achievers Catherine Gee and Courtney Smith. “I’m glad I had to opportunity to attend this event,” said Childs. She adds that “It is nice to see so many achieving African American seniors like myself and it was great talking to some of the top ranked colleges and universities in the country. I would recommend this event to any African American senior who would meet the organization’s qualifications.” Rufus King’s senior Heard shared that she really enjoyed the HSR and what impressed her most was the intimate setting: “The event was only open to honors students and because of that criteria, I feel like I had the opportunity to introduce myself to campus representatives of which I was interested and ask more detailed questions about their college offerings.” She was excited that her “top school” was present and additionally the HSR “helped me to be open to other college options in my major for which I am qualified.” HSR invitee Coker said that by attending this event, she learned a lot about the universities to which she was considering applying and “also about colleges and universities that were off my radar.” She adds that, “we were all well taken care of and I really appreciate how welcoming were the school representatives. I learned a lot and will definitely be filling out more applications.” London admitted at first that she was “really nervous” being in a room filled with “brilliant students”. But her outlook changed once there: “I warmed up quickly and knew exactly what I was going to ask the college representatives who I found were extremely open, kind, and willing to answer your questions. I feel confident that I had made some great connections with several colleges.” She adds that, “the Honors Student Reception is a great opportunity for qualified seniors serious about finding the right college.” Five parents accompanied their seniors this year to Chicago. Pierre S. Charles Jr., from Beloit says of the HSR that “I think this event is wonderful because it allowed my daughter, Rebecca, to see a lot of colleges at one time and it will help her realize that she has a great chance of being accepted at any of these schools. He adds that “we come from a small town in Wisconsin where we do not get much exposure to young people who went to college. So this experience was great!” As of 2012, a total of 88 students from Milwaukee, Kenosha, Beloit, and Madison have been identified to have met the 3.3 minimum and 23 cum or above on the ACT for a HSR initiation. During this four year period from 2009 to 2012, 62 students have actually attended. With this our fifth year 2013 figures, 110 students total from Southeast Wisconsin have been selected for HSR invitationals and 76 have attended. At this rate, we might very well hit the 100 attendance benchmark with our 2014 selections. Thankful appreciation is given to high school senior counselors at Divine Savior Holy Angels, Beloit Memorial High School, Messmer High School, Marquette University High School and Madison West in identifying this and previous year’s qualified students. Additional to considerable appreciation to Nicholes Five Star Charter who coached our party to Chicago, thanks and gratitude are extended to Sharnissa Dunlap-Parker, Coordinator of the MPS College Access Center North and to Gerard Randall of the Milwaukee Partnership Academy through which transportation funding was provided for this occasion. Says Dunlap-Parker: “With strong admiration for the hard work and diligence these seniors have shown, it was a pleasure to serve the students and families to ensure their participation in this Chicago 100 Black Men sponsored event.” The MPS TEAM UP CAC additionally identified qualified MPS seniors and during the October 11 send-off gathering prior to boarding, assisted the students in their portfolio preparation for sharing with college representatives. Dr. Warren Braden, Associate Professor at Springfield College Milwaukee Campus was also present at the CAC send-off and urged the seniors: “Continue to cultivate your diligence, discipline, determination and vision for success. We are all very proud of your academic achievement.” Dunlap-Parker adds in closing remarks that, “I was proud of my team of professionals at TEAM UP CAC who identified and assisted the seniors. We are especially proud of the student honorees and thankful to the many high school counselors throughout Milwaukee and area districts who listed their qualified seniors for this valuable experience. I look forward to identifying and increasing the number of participants in future HSR events.”
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