Ron Brown Scholar Program

The Ron Brown Scholarship application is now available. Please note there will only be one application deadline this year – January 9, 2021. Students may apply at any time prior to the January 9th deadline. Guidance counselors may submit their letters of recommendation by email at info@ronbrown.org prior to January 9, 2021.

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Yasmine Mabene

Yasmine Mabene

Hometown: San Diego, CA

high school: Rancho Bernardo HS

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: Biology

Since she was young, Yasmine Mabene always dreamed of growing up to be someone who would one day change the world. As a first generation American whose parents immigrated from Cameroon, Yasmine grew up experiencing a unique blend of American and African culture. The importance of community was strongly emphasized throughout her childhood and reflects in the actions she took to improve the lives of those around her. Whether it is the summers she spends running activities at a camp for homeless youth, or the classroom discussions she leads with younger students on healthy lifestyle choices, Yasmine continuously strives to make a positive impact. She is a strong leader within her campus as an officer in Peer Counseling, President of the California Scholarship Federation, and both Treasurer and Secretary of National Honor Society. Beyond dedicating hours of her time to serving others, Yasmine discovered her passion for fighting for social justice. Heavily influenced by her parents who were born right after the liberation and subsequent political turmoil in Cameroon, activism is in her blood. In addition to leading rallies, town halls, and demonstrations, Yasmine has visited both her State Capitol and the nation’s Capital to speak with politicians on issues that are important to her. She is the State Director of March for Our Lives California, a youth organization in the gun violence prevention movement and the Social Media Director of Earth Uprising, an international youth led organization that works to fight climate change through education. Through this work, Yasmine has found that she has been able to build a community with people from all around the world, something she finds essential in initiating transformative change. 

Yasmine has always found herself holding a wide variety of interests. Her never ending love for music allowed her to perform in Carnegie Hall but also in more intimate settings such as retirement homes and the oncology department of the hospital she shadowed in. Yasmine’s interest in the STEM field allowed her to participate in research involving pain detection and address racial disparities in healthcare while her involvement at Johns Hopkins Public Health Institute gave her the opportunity to study policy and the disproportionate effect that gun violence has on communities of color.

Yasmine hopes to further explore these interests next fall at Stanford University, to continue taking part in research that can be implemented to benefit communities, and perhaps, achieve her childhood dream along the way.

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Travis Johnson

Travis Johnson

Hometown: Lynchburg, SC

high school: Crestwood HS

college: Harvard College

MAJOR: Government / Political Science

Travis Johnson was born on November 19, 2001 and has lived in Lynchburg, South Carolina his entire life. The youngest of five children, Travis grew up in an economically challenged area and personally witnessed the detrimental effects of a flawed criminal justice system within his community. In return, Travis developed a keen interest in seeking social and economic justice and equality through politics, business and law. Despite not coming from an affluent area, Travis fundamentally believes that the values of faith, hard work, dedication and persistence create the recipe for success in life. Travis works diligently to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA. Not only does he strive for success, but Travis works to ensure that other individuals with similar life circumstances are able to rise above any obstacles.

After watching the results of the 2008 Presidential Election, Travis was inspired and developed an interest in politics and public service. To cultivate his desire to provide selfless representation to the greatest amount of people, Travis has served in a variety of elected positions, including Freshman President, Sophomore President, Junior President and Senior Vice President. As the Sophomore President, in response to recent tragic events, Travis wanted to highlight the ways in which students could become politically engaged. As a result, he successfully planned and held a school safety forum which featured several statewide elected officials who answered students’ questions. Travis served as the 2018-2019 Senior Adviser on the South Carolina High School Democrats’ Executive Board, where he connected several students with local campaign internships and registered students to vote. During Travis’ junior year, he was selected to attend the prestigious United States Senate Youth Program. As part of this program, Travis met with various federal officials, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, President of the United States, and numerous Senators. Finally, this summer Travis attended Palmetto Boys State and Boys Nation, where he met with the Vice President of the United States and served in multiple elected roles.

Upon entering high school, Travis joined the world’s largest career student business organization: Future Business Leaders of America. Travis climbed the ladder of the organization, serving two terms as a State President and the National President’s Chief of Staff. In July 2019, Travis was elected to represent the 250,000+ members of FBLA as the first African-American National President. As part of this role, Travis sits on the National Board of Directors, analyzes membership data, and spearheads the development of new projects and initiatives. One such initiative, the National Uniform Challenge, was designed to provide professional attire to members in need across the nation.

Travis maintains an integral presence in his community by serving as a mentor to younger individuals, and is extremely active in his church. This fall, Travis will attend Harvard College and pursue a concentration in Government. After college, Travis intends to attend law school to provide representation to underprivileged citizens. As a Ron Brown Scholar, Travis is excited to put service above self and open doors for others.

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Samuel Mumford, Jr.

Samuel Mumford, Jr.

Hometown: Baltimore , MD

high school: McDonogh School

college: University of Pennsylvania

MAJOR: Business Analytics

Samuel Mumford Jr. was born October 6, 2001 in Baltimore, MD. Since the age of five, Sam’s paternal grandmother has raised him due to the unfortunate circumstances of his parents. Sam’s grandmother instilled discipline, respect, and hard work into him as she believed these qualities would lead to his becoming successful, but more importantly, a man of integrity.

Sam began his pursuit of academic excellence at Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School. During his summer years of elementary school, Sam participated in Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth where his interest in math and science first developed. At Mount Royal, Sam was in the Ingenuity Project, an advanced science and math program, where he received recognition for his hard work in the classroom. Sam also began to express his athletic interest at Mount Royal, playing flag football, basketball and running track and field.

In middle school, Sam participated in Middle Grades Partnership, a summer enrichment program at McDonogh School. The decision to attend McDonogh for high school was not Sam’s, but rather his grandmother’s. Although it was against his wishes, going to McDonogh turned out to be one of the most important decisions of his life. Initially, Sam had difficulties transitioning into such a drastically different community, but through time he adjusted and became comfortable within the community. McDonogh granted Sam the chance to interact with a diverse selection of people and the opportunity and resources to fully express his academic interests. Sam maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school, consistently being named to the Dean’s List,  and was a Questbridge College Prep Scholar and Questbridge National College Match Finalist. Outside of the classroom, Sam was a leader of Sankofa (McDonogh’s Black Awareness Club) and captain of the track and field team for two years. 

Sam will attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School where he will study Business Analytics. After college, he plans to become an entrepreneur in an effort to bring opportunities and jobs back to the diminished communities he has passed through. Providing people with the opportunity to better themselves is Sam’s way of giving back.

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Rickey McGregor, III

Rickey McGregor, III

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

high school: Saint Bernard HS

college: University of California, Berkeley

MAJOR: Business

Rickey McGregor, III was born on December 29th, 2001 in South Central Los Angeles. There are two sides to Rickey: the business-savvy future billionaire side, and the philanthropic, community-driven side.

From an early age, Rickey was always trying to make money. In early elementary school, he started his own lemonade stand, waking up on Saturday mornings and squeezing the juice out of lemons to make lemonade. As a young businessman, he was already examining how to cut costs; asking his neighbor for lemons from his tree. He soon realized that squeezing lemons was very tedious and time consuming, so he bought CountryTime lemonade powder, increasing his cost, but increasing his output allowing him to sell more cups. While running a lemonade stand was fun, it wasn’t enough; he wanted more.

While he was done with the lemonade stand, he wasn’t done making money. He found out that you can make money by recycling plastic and taking it to a collection center. He immediately thought he had just found the easiest way to make money. He collected the recyclables from his house, but he knew that wasn’t enough to make a substantial profit. He reached out to family members and asked them to save their recyclables for him. His only expense was the U-Haul he had to rent to transport the bottles.

During his freshman year, he decided to start a barbering service. Self-taught, Rickey even went bald practicing on himself. His barbering service was more fulfilling to him because he built it from nothing. He had to develop his skills and learn how to market his product. But the money he began to make helped him develop a sense of how broad business can be. He started learning about the stock market, real estate investment, venture capitalism, and hedge funds and realized that he wanted to be more than an entrepreneur.

But Rickey isn’t just a business-man; he’s a man with a passion to help his community. Growing up in South-Central, he saw and endured a lot. His grandfather died in a drug deal. He has an uncle who was homeless and addicted to crack and a cousin who is addicted to meth. His grandmother overdosed on opioids. He has an older brother and uncle in jail, the latter which has been in for sixty years. Rickey realized from an early age how his community was trapped in a cycle of drugs, gangs, and hopelessness. It was this, along with a family dedicated to service that awoke Rickey’s desire to change his community in a radical way. He watched his mom work at inner-city public schools for years, many of which post rates similar to 32% reading proficiency and 5% math proficiency, which are the rates at his local public school and his dad run a disguised mentoring program for at-risk, inner-city youth called iMentorGlobal, both of which don’t pay very much. He watched his grandmother who, despite her issues, spend her own money to make lunches for the homeless. He knew that despite the financial sacrifices, they worked for something bigger than themselves, and he knew he must continue.

Rickey is unsure of what college he will attend, but he plans to major in business and public affairs. In order to make major changes, economic and political power is needed. Business fulfills his interest and helps make economic change, while public affairs gives him the knowledge necessary to influence policy and create his own programs.

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Myles Noel

Myles Noel

Hometown: Norfolk, VA

high school: Norview HS

college: MIT

MAJOR: Chemistry

Myles‌ ‌Noel‌ ‌was‌ ‌born‌ ‌to‌ ‌two‌ ‌immigrants‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌islands‌ ‌of‌ ‌Trinidad‌ ‌and‌ ‌Tobago.‌ ‌Being‌ ‌a‌ ‌first‌ ‌generation‌ ‌child,‌ ‌he‌ ‌was‌ ‌taught‌ ‌at‌ ‌an‌ ‌early‌ ‌age‌ ‌the‌ ‌value‌ ‌of‌ ‌scholarship‌ ‌and‌ ‌his‌ ‌education‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌importance‌ ‌they‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌success‌ ‌in‌ ‌this‌ ‌country.‌ ‌From‌ ‌a‌ ‌young‌ ‌age,‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌ingrained‌ ‌into‌ ‌his‌ ‌mind‌ ‌to‌ ‌pursue‌ ‌his‌ ‌education‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌highest‌ ‌degree‌ ‌possible,‌ ‌and‌ ‌that‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌his‌ ‌goal‌ ‌ever‌ ‌since.‌ ‌ ‌

Myles‌ ‌attends‌ ‌Norview‌ ‌High‌ ‌School‌ ‌in‌ ‌Norfolk‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Leadership‌ ‌Center‌ ‌for‌ ‌Science‌ ‌and‌ ‌Engineering‌ ‌(LCSE)‌ ‌program.‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌actively‌ ‌involved‌ ‌in‌ ‌school‌ ‌by‌ ‌participating‌ in ‌clubs‌ ‌ranging‌ ‌from‌ ‌Varsity‌ ‌Tennis,‌ ‌Scholastic‌ ‌Bowl,‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History‌ ‌Bowl,‌ ‌Model‌ ‌Judiciary,‌ ‌Model‌ ‌UN,‌ ‌NJROTC,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Chamber‌ ‌Orchestra.‌ ‌ ‌‌

Myles‌ ‌grew‌ ‌up‌ ‌fascinated‌ ‌with‌ ‌history,‌ ‌especially‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History.‌ ‌At‌ ‌his‌ ‌elementary‌ ‌school,‌ ‌an‌ ‌entire‌ ‌section‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌library‌ ‌was‌ ‌dedicated‌ ‌to‌ ‌famous‌ ‌figures‌ ‌of‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History.‌ ‌This‌ ‌section‌ ‌was‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌found‌ ‌his‌ ‌inspiration‌ ‌through‌ ‌figures‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌Dr.‌ ‌Martin‌ ‌Luther‌ ‌King‌ ‌Jr.,‌ ‌Malcolm‌ ‌X,‌ ‌Muhammad‌ ‌Ali,‌ ‌Mae‌ ‌Jamison,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Barack‌ ‌Obama.‌ ‌This‌ ‌interest‌ ‌stuck‌ ‌with‌ ‌him‌ ‌into‌ ‌high‌ ‌school,‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌captain‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌school’s‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History‌ ‌Bowl‌ ‌team.‌ ‌While‌ ‌being‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌club,‌ Myles‌ ‌noticed‌ ‌that‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌History‌ ‌Is‌ ‌a‌ ‌very‌ ‌under taught‌ ‌and‌ ‌overlooked‌ ‌history‌ ‌at‌ ‌his‌ ‌school.‌ ‌Therefore,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌decided‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌the‌ ‌club‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌platform‌ ‌to‌ ‌inform‌ ‌the‌ ‌rest‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌history.‌ ‌Through‌ ‌the‌ ‌recruitment‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌diverse‌ ‌group‌ ‌of‌ ‌individuals,‌ ‌he‌ ‌and‌ ‌his‌ ‌team‌ ‌were‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌enlighten‌ ‌his‌ ‌school’s‌ ‌student‌ ‌body‌ ‌of‌ ‌this history.‌ ‌Furthermore, ‌the‌ ‌success‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌team‌ ‌as‌ ‌five‌ ‌time‌ ‌state‌ ‌champions‌ ‌helped‌ ‌instill‌ ‌change‌ ‌within‌ ‌the‌ ‌school‌ ‌and‌ ‌school‌ ‌district,‌‌where‌ ‌African‌ ‌American‌ ‌Seminar‌ ‌are‌ ‌being‌ ‌introduced‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌class‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌school’s‌ ‌offerings.‌ ‌‌

Myles’‌ ‌true‌ ‌passion‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌with‌ ‌science.‌ ‌Ever‌ ‌since‌ ‌he‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌kid,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌interested‌ ‌in‌ ‌how‌ ‌the‌ ‌universe‌ ‌works.‌ ‌This‌ ‌interest‌ ‌came‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌collection‌ ‌of‌ ‌books‌ ‌his‌ ‌mother‌ ‌gave‌ ‌him‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌natural‌ ‌sciences,‌ ‌books‌ ‌that‌ ‌he‌ ‌still‌ ‌holds‌ ‌to‌ ‌this‌ ‌day.‌ ‌From‌ ‌these‌ ‌experiences,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌decided‌ ‌that‌ ‌he‌ ‌wanted‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌to‌ ‌space.‌ ‌Sophomore‌ ‌year,‌ ‌he‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌Space‌ ‌Coast‌ ‌Scholars,‌ ‌a‌ ‌program‌ ‌that‌ ‌took‌ ‌place‌ ‌at‌ ‌Wallops‌ ‌Flight‌ ‌Facility‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌group‌ ‌of‌ ‌students‌ ‌planned‌ ‌a‌ ‌mock‌ ‌mission‌ ‌for‌ ‌NASA.‌ ‌Junior‌ ‌year,‌ ‌he‌ ‌did‌ ‌a‌ ‌similar‌ ‌program‌ ‌called‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌Aerospace‌ ‌Science‌ ‌and‌ ‌Technology‌ ‌Scholars‌ ‌at‌ ‌Langley‌ ‌Research‌ ‌Center.‌ ‌‌

Using‌ ‌these‌ ‌experiences,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌to‌ ‌attend‌ ‌the‌ ‌Massachusetts‌ ‌Institute‌ ‌of‌ ‌Technology‌ ‌to‌ ‌study‌ ‌chemistry‌ ‌to‌ ‌its‌ ‌terminal‌ ‌degree.‌ ‌He‌ ‌aspires‌ ‌to‌ ‌become‌ ‌a‌ ‌Research‌ ‌Chemist‌ ‌and‌ ‌eventually‌ ‌a‌ ‌Mission‌ ‌Specialist‌ ‌for‌ ‌NASA.‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌to‌ ‌serve‌ ‌as‌ ‌an‌ ‌example‌ ‌to‌ ‌other‌ ‌people‌ ‌of‌ ‌color‌ ‌by‌ ‌becoming‌ ‌a‌ ‌leader‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌field‌ ‌of‌ ‌STEM.‌ ‌However,‌ ‌Myles‌ ‌ultimately‌ ‌hopes‌ ‌to‌ ‌carry‌ ‌on‌ ‌his‌ ‌parents‌ ‌dreams,‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌them‌ ‌proud‌ ‌and‌ ‌make‌ ‌the‌ ‌sacrifices‌ ‌they‌ ‌made‌ ‌coming‌ ‌to‌ ‌this‌ ‌country‌ ‌worthwhile.‌

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Miguel Anderson

Miguel Anderson

Hometown: Richmond, CA

high school: Summit Public Schools K2

college: University of Texas at Austin

MAJOR: Journalism

Miguel Anderson is a high school senior attending Summit K2 in El Cerrito, California. Although he was born in Berkeley, California, he was raised in Richmond, California. Due to this, he is unapologetically Richmond. He was raised in a single-parent household with his mother, Cynthia Anderson, and twin sister Cambria Anderson. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music, DJing, and thrifting. You can find him at a record store, concert, or out exploring the city. With an unparalleled passion for life, he loves creating memories with those close to him.

Growing up in Richmond has exposed Miguel to a lot. From a young age, Miguel has constantly witnessed how institutional barriers such as poverty and racism disrupt society and displaces communities. Being queer, multiethnic, and from poverty, Miguel has personally been displaced and this leads Miguel to believe that everyone has a place in this world, no matter where they come from.

Miguel pursues this belief at school, where he is a prominent advocate for equity and inclusion. He is the Senior Class President for Summit K2’s senior class as a part of the Associated Student Body. At this level, he advocates for student needs such as in AP Calculus, where he has transformed free periods into math review sessions to offer extra support in math subjects to students who need it. He also brings his interest in music to the school community. Miguel is the founder of Musicality 101, a student organization that aims to spread awareness and provide education through music. He teaches DJ lessons and hosts musical discussions in class. However, Musicality 101’s greatest impact lies outside of the classroom, where the organization has hosted successful campaigns that educate audiences about current social injustices through benefit concerts. Musicality has raised $700 for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and provided musical entertainment to non-profit organizations for their social justice campaigns.

Miguel’s advocacy continues into his journalism. He believes journalism is a way to communicate important news and expose society’s injustices. Take a look into his work and you’ll see: Miguel has created a radio feature about creative expression in minority communities and it’s repercussions for minority youth and a radio commentary about his personal experience with gentrification. Now, Miguel uses journalism to implement a new narrative for marginalized and minority communities across the globe. He owns the blog, Stageconfessions.com, where he writes to provide a platform for underrepresented minorities in the music industry. He has written articles on “Black Artists Who’ve Revolutionized Music,” interviewed the Mexican-American singer Katzu Oso, and spotlighted transgender artist SOPHIE’s artistry. With these articles, Miguel hopes to communicate to communities worldwide that minorities are able to reach triumphant heights. Minorities are more than just stereotypes, they are innovators and achievers. Miguel hopes to show that to the world by pursuing a dual-degree in journalism and sociology.

Now, wherever Miguel goes, he is confident to make an impact.

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Kate Rhoda Nkrumah

Kate Rhoda Nkrumah

Hometown: Cincinnati , OH

high school: Garfield HS

college: Howard University

MAJOR: Sociology

Born to Ghanaian parents, Kate Rhoda Nkrumah was raised in the small suburb of Forest Park, Ohio. From an early age, Rhoda viewed her mother, Catherine, as her role model. Catherine sacrificed everything to come to the United States to give her children a better quality of life. Despite having to raise five children on her own, Catherine was assiduous and enduring. Seeing her mother and her community struggle but simultaneously continue to push on instilled the values of hard work, perseverance, and a thirst for knowledge in Rhoda.

In 2016, Kate Rhoda moved from Cincinnati to Seattle to live with her older sibling. This was a complete disruption to the life she had built in Ohio. Having to leave her friends, family, community, and everything she had ever known behind and relocate to a city 2,300 miles away was traumatic. From feelings of isolation and depression to homelessness and financial insecurity, her move to Seattle left her feeling defeated. Yet, Rhoda could not allow herself to succumb to this. She had to survive and overcome just as her mother had. Over time, Rhoda has managed to overcome the stresses in her life by building community, finding her passions, and being of service to her community.

During her time in Seattle, Kate Rhoda has become deeply involved in her community. Two activities she is most proud of is the Melanin Monthly and the creation of Black and Brown Minds Matter. Rhoda noticed the lack of representation and diversity in her school’s newspaper and consequently worked alongside one of her peers to create the Melanin Monthly, a newspaper written by and for students of color with the goal of highlighting their experiences and celebrating cultural diversity. In addition, Rhoda, along with four peers, founded Black and Brown Minds Matter. This aims to achieve equitable funding in the Seattle Public Schools district for students of color. She and her peers were able to successfully organize a district-wide walkout and rally to draw attention to the blatant injustices in the Seattle school system.

Kate Rhoda has managed to overcome adversity and serve her community while excelling academically. She has maintained a 3.86 GPA and has taken two years of a full college course-load. This has allowed her to graduate high school with an Associate of Arts degree from Seattle Central College. With her mother as a role model, Rhoda has made sure to take advantage of every opportunity, exceed academic expectations, and to also give back to her community.

In the future, Kate Rhoda’s ultimate goal is to become a Criminal Justice Reform Lawyer as well as a Journalist and Entrepreneur. These professions will allow her to combine her love for law, social advocacy, literature, and self-empowerment. As shown by her extensive involvement and dedication to her community, Rhoda plans to dedicate her life to fighting for the people who have been systematically denied their rights to justice, peace, and equal opportunity.

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John Hatcher

John Hatcher

Hometown: Chicago Heights, IL

high school: Marian Catholic HS

college: Harvard College

MAJOR: Political Science / Economics

When John Hatcher was first born, he struggled to breathe and fought to hold on to life. As he suffered from seizures and a number of other health problems, the doctors predicted that with his current situation, he would suffer from learning disabilities and struggle within the classroom. While everyone seemed to have given up hope on John’s future, his mother, with a determination that seemed otherworldly, sacrificed virtually everything to take care of him on her own and guide him into a future of prosperity. It was this determination and love that allowed John to rise, despite the doctors’ predictions, beyond his circumstances and to develop a passion for learning itself, for it was the very entity that his birth predicted he would never be able to truly access.

As he grew up and learned to overcome his own challenges, John soon became aware of how his surrounding environment, his own community, faced its own set of unique and insurmountable challenges. In growing up in a black neighborhood rife with people that have been forced to grow dependent on living from check to check in government subsidized housing, he heard stories of family and community members who could have had amazing futures but sadly never met their potential. Their futures were destroyed by their inability to escape their environment of limited socioeconomic mobility and mass incarceration through accidental pregnancies, drug addictions, and petty crimes. In this critical time of this awareness, John entered a private Catholic high school with the financial support of an organization called LINK Unlimited Scholars. This program for black students within the Chicagoland area sought to also provide its students with supplementary information about the history of the black diaspora outside of the white narrative; John learned of the strength within the black community, from Leo Africanus’s depictions of Western African communities as rich and complex to the movement of black people in America, like his own grandmother, who risked everything to move to the North to seek opportunity as part of the Great Migration. Like the doctors that lacked knowledge of John’s inner strength and could not predict the effect of his mother’s tenacity, America, a country built on the backs of black slaves, failed to recognize its own racist history, from Jim Crow to the War on Drugs, and created and allowed the problems in his own community to persist. It was at this time in John’s life that he was able to connect his passion for learning with his desire to be an advocate and a voice for all who have suffered like he, and the others members of his community, had suffered.

Through his high school years, John has had the opportunity to develop his voice to address the systems of injustice that plague marginalized communities across America. On the Speech Team, he has discussed topics from the “Adultification of Black Boys” to “American Exceptionalism.” His talents and passions were additionally culminated when he spoke at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) GO TO 2050 event, during which he was able to discuss with mayors and community planners about the experience of growing up as a black child in the Chicagoland area, especially within the context of police murders like that of Laquan McDonald.

From the day he was born, John has been a fighter. Through role models like his mother and grandmother, and by planning to double major in Political Science and Economics, he seeks to continue to use his love for learning, public speaking, and social justice to contribute to the fight against the systems of oppression that have affected the people who have grown up in similar circumstances as he. John Hatcher is proud of his past and his lineage, and knows that it is his destiny to enact this positive change in a world that so desperately needs it.

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Janelle Baker

Janelle Baker

Hometown: Cedar Hill, TX

high school: Townview School of Science & Engineering

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering

Janelle Baker was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Growing up, she was surrounded by a Christian family whose commitment to serving others fueled her passion to use all her God-given talents and abilities to contribute to her community.

During her middle school years, Janelle discovered that she deeply enjoyed learning about math and science, which is why she chose to attend the School of Science and Engineering at Townview, the top STEM high school in the nation, where she will graduate as the salutatorian of her class. Upon entering this high school, Janelle was placed into the most accelerated math and science tracks, but she saw her passion for STEM come to fruition when she joined the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) joint chapter at her school. As the Vice President of NSBE, she took on the role of organizing engineering design challenges to specifically cater to skills vital to success in STEM careers and tutored the students in math and science in preparation for divisional STEM competitions. Her position not only allowed her to influence future generations of scientists and engineers through mentorship but allowed her to advise other clubs’ leadership in the region to make their respective chapters more efficient in the mission of the overall organizations: to ignite and increase minority participation in STEM fields.

In addition to her rigorous academic course load, Janelle is a competitive dancer who has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical dance technique for most of her life. Janelle’s passion for movement and fascination with biomechanics engendered the interdisciplinary perspective that has motivated her to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering. Dancing has allowed her to experience feeling weightless and untethered as she glides across a stage, using every inch of her being to create beautiful silhouettes, and she hopes a bioengineering education will provide her with the skills to design products that can restore mobility and enable people to experience their unique expressions of freedom. After undergrad, Janelle hopes to attend medical school and pursue a specialty in sports medicine or orthopedics, continuing to explore the intersection between medicine and the mechanics of the human body.

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