Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

Supporting our Students To and Through College

A lot of noise has been made about the wonderful things happening with Urban Prep Academy in Chicago Illinois. Although they have had a success rate of graduating 100 percent of their student body with a 100 percent college acceptance rate. I often wonder what happens after they leave this wonderful, caring and nurturing environment.

I have often seen our black males go to college and end up not making it past their freshman year, unless they are involved in a sport or have had tremendous support to get through. This is not the case for all black males because I have several friends who excelled and have gone on to get multiple degrees. I am just wondering in the case of this dynamic school... how many did finish college and end up doing well?

I have done my research and found that 3 of the males from the first graduating class are about to get their bachelor’s degrees. What happened to the other gentlemen? The statement that was issued is that although all students graduated from high school all did not finish college. They will release the concrete numbers at the end of 2014. As I was reading an article one of the graduates that did finish had this to say.

Standing on the stage at Fisk University, a tear rolled down Krishaun Branch’s cheek.

“I just feel like God’s got my back,” he declared in a wavering voice, after accepting his degree in psychology.

Branch comes from Englewood, the often dangerous South Side neighborhood that’s home to the first Urban Prep (there are now three campuses). As a kid, he hung out with gangbangers. He quit Urban Prep rather than risk expulsion after getting into a fight. When a friend was killed, he begged to be readmitted and became a serious student.

Getting through Fisk was no sure thing, especially at first. He had money troubles. He was slow to trust others. He had a short fuse. He was homesick, but he knew he couldn’t leave. “I had to calm down,” he says. “I knew this was an opportunity I could lose. … College is a place where you have to want it. If you don’t, you’ll be spit out quickly.”

His Urban Prep family, he says, helped with money, encouragement and even temporarily relocated him one school break when trouble was brewing in his neighborhood. “I had people who wanted to see me succeed as much as I did,” Branch says. “That helped me tremendously.”

The school’s midwife approach is all-encompassing. An alumni affairs team stays in touch with the students by phone, text and email.

There’s also limited money for tuition, books or everyday expenses. Transportation to college. Clothes for internship interviews. Lawyers for legal troubles. Visits by staff to take a homesick kid to lunch or dinner.

“You just can’t say to a student, ‘OK, now here’s your chance to go to college. … See you later,’” King says. “You’ve got to keep being there to provide support.”

Reading this made me realize that as we send our students out of the nest to fly, we need to still support them from time to time in order for them to make it through and be successful. This school has shown that they live by this philosophy, even though it may not always be effective.

Always support our youth they are counting on our wisdom, guidance and support to make it through.

Until The Next


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