To be named high-school valedictorian is an honor for any family. For the Georges, that distinction came in the form of fraternal twins, Malik and Miles, who are now heading to their dream school together: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The 18-year-old brothers from New Jersey delivered a rousing and light-hearted speech at their Woodbridge High School graduation ceremony on Thursday, capping off years of academic excellence and hard work. The twins took turns giving their combined oratory address to their nearly 400 classmates, each one putting a spotlight on subjects dear to them like climate change and having support groups.
“It was an amazing experience,” Malik said. “To have all four years to culminate that moment is an enriching experience.”
The graduates, who earned near perfect SAT scores and didn’t have a grade lower than an A-minus in high school, now head to M.I.T., the school they’ve been laser-focused on since freshman year at Woodbridge High. So much so, the George brothers applied early –– and found out they got in weeks before their birthday in December.
“It was our dream school,” Miles said. ” We were looking at top ten schools and we fell in love with everything it had to offer.”
In addition to MIT, the brothers were also accepted into Harvard and Johns Hopkins University. They attribute much of their achievements to their parents, who recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
“From a very young age, our parents have been active in our education,” Malik said. “If we ever did get a B, they never forced us to do anything, they just wanted us to do our best.”
Away from their parents, now the brothers have each other to look out for once they head to college. Malik is 11 minutes older, but Miles is two inches taller.
“We’re each other’s big brother in a way,” Malik said.
Many college-bound high school seniors will have difficult decisions to make as summer approaches, but few can compare to the choice facing New Jersey teen Ifeoma White-Thorpe – she was accepted to all eight Ivy League colleges. White-Thorpe, 17, from Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, was accepted into Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. And that’s not all. White-Thorpe was accepted into Stanford University, too.
At first, she was solely focused on Harvard — the first school to officially give her the green light. But acceptance letters from other prestigious schools across the country soon flooded her mailbox, and now she’s back to square one. “I got into Harvard Early Action, so I was like I’ll just go there. And then I got into all the others and now I don’t know where I want to go,” White-Thorpe told CBS Philly on Tuesday.
The teenager already has quite an impressive list of accomplishments. She’s student government president, ranks high in her advanced placement courses and is a talented poet and writer. She recently won first place in the National Liberty Museum’s Selma Speech & Essay Contest.“Education is essential for change, and I aspire to be that change,” White-Thorpe said after winning a $5,000 prize in the national essay contest.
White-Thorpe says she wants to major in global healthy policy, and plans to look into what programs each school offers in her field. But that’s not the only factor that will help make her decision. It will likely come down to whichever university provides the best financial aid package, she said.
Myron Rolle’s NFL career didn’t last long, but he always made clear that he had higher priorities than playing football, and he’s just taken a major step in his real calling. Rolle, a 2010 sixth-round pick of the Titans who also spent time with the Steelers, has been chosen for a neurosurgery residency at Harvard after he completes his education at the Florida State University College of Medicine this spring.
“Seven years of neurosurgery is a big deal, something I wanted for a long time, really excited about it. Today is just great, it’s remarkable,” Rolle told WCTV. Rolle was a star player at Florida State who once arrived late to a game because he had an interview for a Rhodes Scholarship.
He spent a year studying at Oxford between the end of his Florida State career and the start of his NFL career, and although he spent a couple years in the NFL, his primary goal was to become a doctor.“Saving lives and helping people live a better life,” Rolle said, “that’s going to make life worth living.”
Yesterday I was tagged in a post by an old high school friend, asking me and a few others a very public, direct question about white privilege and racism. I feel compelled not only to publish his query but also my response to it, as it may be a helpful discourse for more than just a handful of folks on Facebook.
Here’s his post:
“To all of my Black or mixed race FB friends, I must profess a blissful ignorance of this “White Privilege” of which I’m apparently guilty of possessing. By not being able to fully put myself in the shoes of someone from a background/race/religion/gender/ nationality/body type that differs from my own makes me part of the problem, according to what I’m now hearing. Despite my treating everyone with respect and humor my entire life (as far as I know), I’m somehow complicit in the misfortune of others. I’m not saying I’m colorblind, but whatever racism/sexism/other -ism my life experience has instilled in me stays within me, and is not manifested in the way I treat others (which is not the case with far too many, I know).
So that I may be enlightened, can you please share with me some examples of institutional racism that have made an indelible mark upon you? If I am to understand this, I need people I know personally to show me how I’m missing what’s going on. Personal examples only. I’m not trying to be insensitive, I only want to understand (but not from the media). I apologize if this comes off as crass or offends anyone.”
Here’s my response:
Hi, Jason. First off, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve quoted your post and made it part of mine. I think the heart of what you’ve asked of your friends of color is extremely important and I think my response needs much more space than as a reply on your feed. I truly thank you for wanting to understand what you are having a hard time understanding. Coincidentally, over the last few days I have been thinking about sharing some of the incidents of prejudice/racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime – in fact I just spoke with my sister Lesa about how to best do this yesterday – because I realized many of my friends – especially the white ones – have no idea what I’ve experienced/dealt with unless they were present (and aware) when it happened. There are two reasons for this : 1) because not only as a human being do I suppress the painful and uncomfortable in an effort to make it go away, I was also taught within my community (I was raised in the ‘70s & ‘80s – it’s shifted somewhat now) and by society at large NOT to make a fuss, speak out, or rock the boat. To just “deal with it,” lest more trouble follow (which sadly, it often does). 2) Fear of being questioned or dismissed with “Are you sure that’s what you heard?” or “Are you sure that’s what they meant?” and being angered and upset all over again by well-meaning-but-hurtful and essentially unsupportive responses.
So, again, I’m glad you asked, because I really want to answer. But as I do, please know a few things first: 1) This is not even close to the whole list. I’m cherrypicking because none of us have all day. 2) I’ve been really lucky. Most of what I share below is mild compared to what others in my family and community have endured. 3) I’m going to go in chronological order so you might begin to glimpse the tonnage and why what many white folks might feel is a “Where did all of this come from?” moment in society has been festering individually and collectively for the LIFETIME of pretty much every black or brown person living in America today regardless of wealth or opportunity. 4)Some of what I share covers sexism, too – intersectionality is another term I’m sure you’ve heard and want to put quotes around, but it’s a real thing, too, just like white privilege. But you’ve requested a focus on personal experiences with racism, so here it goes:
1. When I was 3, my family moved into an upper-middle class, all-white neighborhood. We had a big backyard, so my parents built a pool. Not the only pool on the block, but the only one neighborhood boys started throwing rocks into. White boys. One day my mom ID’d one as the boy from across the street, went to his house, told his mother and fortunately, his mother believed mine. My mom not only got an apology, but also had that boy jump in our pool and retrieve every single rock. No more rocks after that. Then Mom even invited him to come over to swim sometime if he asked permission. Everyone became friends. This one has a happy ending because my mom was and is badass about matters like these, but I hope you can see that the white privilege in this situation isbeing able to move into a “nice” neighborhood and be accepted not harassed, made to feel unwelcome, or prone to acts of vandalism and hostility.
2. When my older sister was 5, a white boy named Mark called her a “nigger” after she beat him in a race at school. She didn’t know what it meant but in her gut, she knew it was bad. This was the first time I’d seen my father the kind of angry that has nowhere to go. I somehow understood it was because not only had some boy verbally assaulted his daughter and had gotten away with it, it had way too early introduced her (and me) to that term and the reality of what it meant – that some white people would be cruel and careless with black people’s feelings just because of our skin color. Or our achievement. If it’s unclear in any way, the point here is if you’ve NEVER had a defining moment in your childhood or your life, where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.
3. Sophomore year of high school. I had Mr. Melrose for Algebra 2. Some time within the first few weeks of class, he points out that I’m “the only spook” in the class. This was meant to be funny. It wasn’t. So, I doubt it will surprise you I was relieved when he took medical leave after suffering a heart attack and was replaced by a sub for the rest of the semester. The point here is if you’ve never been ‘the only one’ of your race in a class, at a party, on a job, etc. and/or it’s been pointed out in a “playful” fashion by the authority figure in said situation – you have white privilege.
4. When we started getting our college acceptances senior year, I remember some white male classmates pissed that another black classmate had gotten into UCLA while they didn’t. They said that affirmative action had given him “their spot” and it wasn’t fair. An actual friend of theirs. Who’d worked his ass off. The point here is if you’ve never been on the receiving end of the assumption that when you’veachieved something it’s only because it was taken away from a white person who “deserved it” – that is white privilege.
5. When I got accepted to Harvard (as a fellow AP student you were witness to what an academic beast I was in high school, yes?), three separate times I encountered white strangers as I prepped for my maiden trip to Cambridge that rankle to this day. The first was the white doctor giving me a physical at Kaiser: Me: “I need to send an immunization report to my college so I can matriculate.” Doctor: “Where are you going?” Me: “Harvard.” Doctor: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?” The second was in a store, looking for supplies I needed from Harvard’s suggested “what to bring with you” list. Store employee: “Where are you going?” Me: “Harvard.” Store employee: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?” The third was at UPS, shipping off boxes of said “what to bring” to Harvard. I was in line behind a white boy mailing boxes to Princeton, and in front of a white woman sending her child’s boxes to wherever. Woman, to the boy: “What college are you going to?” Boy: “Princeton.” Woman: “Congratulations!” Woman, to me: “Where are you sending your boxes?” Me: “Harvard.” Woman: “You mean the one in Massachusetts?” I think: “No bitch, the one downtown next to the liquor store.” But I say, gesturing to my LABELED boxes: “Yes, the one in Massachusetts.” Then she says congratulations but it’s too fucking late. The point here is if no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, that is white privilege.Continue reading “EDITORIAL: What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege”→
All eight Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, University of Pennsylvania — have offered Long Island, New York high school senior Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna places in their freshman class.
In addition to the Ivies, she was accepted by Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“I am elated, but most importantly, I am thankful,” Augusta, 17, told school officials at Sewanhaka Central High School District.
Augusta’s older brother Johnson told NBC News that Augusta’s “initiative and perseverance,” as well as the family’s emphasis on learning, were responsible for his sister’s success. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as both their Nigerian-born parents are college-educated, and her father has a master’s and doctorate from the University of Indianapolis.
“Education is very paramount in our family,” said her brother, who also made his way to the Ivies. He is a freshman at Cornell University, studying biological engineering.
Tobias and Basillia Nna immigrated to the United States in 1994 and settled first in Indiana then New York City. They moved to Elmont in 2000. Their father has worked for various companies as a physical therapist. All four of their children were born in this country. “Augusta’s school days start from 7 in the morning until around 8 at night,” said Uwamanzu-Nna. “Not to mention all of the homework assignments, scholarship and other miscellaneous things she gets done.”
He said that while his sister was co-founder of her own tutoring service, she also works at another tutoring center on Saturdays.
“I am humbled by all of the college acceptance letters that I recently received,” Augusta says on her high school website. “I am reminded that I have a responsibility to be a role model for others and use my experiences to encourage and inspire others, especially young women.”
For Black History Month, we are honoring pioneers and their heirs apparent.
There are so many black pioneers in the arena of education, but one who stands out is Charlotte Forten Grimké, who was born into an affluent family that had fought for racial equality for generations.
Charlotte Forten Grimké (1837-1914)
Charlotte Forten Grimké was the first northern African American schoolteacher to go south to teach former slaves.
Grimké was born in Philadelphia in 1837 into an influential and affluent family. Her grandfather had been an enormously successful businessman and significant voice in the abolitionist movement. The family moved in the same circles as William Lloyd Garrison and John Greenleaf Whittier: intellectual and political activity were part of the air Charlotte Forten Grimké breathed.
She attended Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts, and began her teaching career in the Salem schools, the first African American ever hired. But she longed to be part of a larger cause, and with the coming of the Civil War Grimké found a way to act on her deepest beliefs. In 1862, she arrived on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, where she worked with Laura Towne.
As she began teaching, she found that many of her pupils spoke only Gullah and were unfamiliar with the routines of school. Though she yearned to feel a bond with the islanders, her temperament, upbringing and education set her apart, and she found she had more in common with the white abolitionists there. Under physical and emotional stress, Grimke, who was always frail, grew ill and left St. Helena after two years.
Today, Grimké is best remembered for her diaries. From 1854-64 and 1885-92, she recorded the life of an intelligent, cultured, romantic woman who read and wrote poetry, attended lectures, worked, and took part in the largest social movement of her time. She was determined to embody the intellectual potential of all black people. She set a course of philosophical exploration, social sophistication, cultural achievement and spiritual improvement. She was, above all, dedicated to social justice.
John B. King Jr. (Image: Wikipedia.org)
John B. King Jr., (1975–)
John King Jr. is the first person of African American and Hispanic descent to be appointed Acting Secretary of the Department of Education. Previously he was Acting Deputy Secretary, and before that, the first African American and first Puerto Rican to be appointed Commissioner of Education of the State of New York.
Before King assumed these high-profile leadership roles, he was an award-winning teacher, receiving the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for secondary-level teaching of American history, American government, and social studies. He also co-founded a high-performing charter school in Boston, the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School.
King received a B.A. in government from Harvard, a Juris Doctor from Yale, and a Ph.D. in educational administrative practice from Columbia University Teachers College.
Although King was born into a well-educated and accomplished family (his father was the first black principal in Brooklyn, New York; he later became executive deputy superintendent of schools; his grandfather had attended New York University Law School), he experienced devastating loss and instability as a youngster, losing both his parents by the time he was 12. Seeing school and teachers as an anchor, he himself became a teacher and education leader, perhaps living out the potential that Charlotte Forten Grimké foresaw for all people of African descent more than a hundred years earlier.
After a tumultuous high school experience, Long Island senior Daria Rose has a bright future ahead of her: The 18-year-old applied to seven Ivy League colleges and has been accepted to each one of them. But when Rose was a sophomore, her world turned completely upside down.
Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, forcing her family to evacuate their beloved home in Baldwin. The house was then completely destroyed by fire.
After the storm, Rose’s family lived in several hotels as well as her grandmother’s house. She said the moves made finishing school work extremely difficult. “It was hard because it’s really unpredictable when you don’t have a stable place to live,” she told ABC News today. “[You] don’t know if you’re moving here next, or there.”
Rose said she lost all of her belongings in the fire, including clothes, furniture, makeup, jewelry and pictures. “My mom and my dad and my family, they made me realize what was important,” she said. “Stuff is just stuff. What is important is your health, education, your family.”
After about a year and a half, they finally moved into a new house in Baldwin. For a college application essay, Rose wrote about her Hurricane Sandy experience.
“It talks about the storm, but the focus is how reading helped me cope,” she said. “I was living in these small spaces but in my head I was able to escape … find myself in a literary world.”
When it came to college preferences, Rose said she had always leaned towards Yale.
“I’ve always known I wanted to go to Yale,” she said. “But junior year I started looking at all my options and I realized how many great schools there were out there.”
She decided to apply to seven of the eight Ivy League colleges, and on March 31, all the schools posted their decisions online. “I went home and checked Harvard first, and then Princeton, and then Brown … and as they kept coming in I was just astonished. I couldn’t even breathe,” Rose said. “It was an amazing moment.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” she added. “I thought I’d get in maybe one or two.”
And now Rose has a big decision ahead of her. While she’s always loved Yale’s environment, Rose says she’s also very interested in Harvard and Princeton. This week she’ll have her last two college visits at Yale and Harvard.
“They’re all such great schools,” she said. “[I’ll] try to see where I’ll fit in the best.”
Wherever Rose ends up, she says she plans to study political science and Russian literature.
WASHINGTON – This is the college acceptance season — frequently a nervous time for high school seniors. But D.C.’s Avery Coffey can relax. He applied to five Ivy League universities and all five accepted him.
Coffey attends Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, a D.C. public school with strict rules. None of the 439 students at Banneker is allowed to bring a cell phone into the building. They are also not allowed to go to their lockers during the school day. (That has spawned the peculiar tradition of piling up textbooks at the base of lockers, so kids can switch books between classes without violating the locker rule.)
The strict rules at Banneker have fostered a rather serious academic environment. Principal Anita Berger says year after year after year, 100 percent of Banneker graduates are accepted into post-secondary institutions. Among these brainy and motivated public school students is 17-year-old Coffey who, like a lot of kids, enjoys sports. What does he play?
He also enjoys academics, and he has a 4.3 high school report card average, adjusted for the demanding International Baccalaureate courses he takes. Coffey scored very high on standardized tests also. He calls himself a “determined” student.
Coffey applied to five Ivy League universities, and, amazingly, has been accepted at all of them: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown. And four of the five universities have already offered very generous financial aid packages. (Harvard is still formulating its offer.)
According to msnnow.com, Jaylen Bledsoe is a 15-year-old sophomore at Hazelwood West High School in St. Louis who also happens to be the CEO and President of Bledsoe Technologies. Bledsoe started his IT consultancy when he was 12 or 13, quickly growing it into the $3.5 million enterprise it is today.
He plans to attend Harvard after he graduates from high school and will be a presenter for a St. Louis youth entrepreneurship nonprofit Independent Youth at their annual TrepStart Day in September, as well as being a national speaker for the organization. To see video of Bledsoe and his story, click here: [Source]