As Urban Prep scholars, they formed a brotherhood. Six young Black men at the Chicago school had a lot in common and had experienced a lot of life’s “growing pains” together, but a special letter gave them a more exciting, tear-jerking life experience that granted the students a new unifying title even as they prepared to leave Urban Prep behind.
“2015 Gates Millennium Scholars.”
Jamel Chambers is one of six Urban Prep Academy seniors who now dons the coveted title, according to DNAinfo, and will be attending college for free as a result of his hard work and academic prowess.
He explains that he was more than just a student at Urban Prep, he was an integral part of a brotherhood and formed a bond with the other students who were also selected as Gates scholars this year.
They were even the first people he called after sharing an emotional moment with this mother.
“My mother cried,” he told DNAinfo of his mother’s reaction to the news. “I cried a little bit. It was like a single tear rolled down. I was excited when I found out.”
That letter came just in time for the Urban Prep student who has dreams of attending Morehouse and one day opening up his own law firm.
“Before I heard back from Gates, I wasn’t getting any feedback from other scholarships — and not going to college wasn’t an option,” Chambers said, according to DNAinfo.
Morehouse’s tuition and fees stack up to a whopping $26,090, according to Forbes, and that’s an amount that Chambers would have been struggling to manage on his own without much financial aid.
Since Morehouse is a private institution, it means Chambers wouldn’t be eligible for many of the grants that help other students afford the costs of public universities.
Now he is preparing to study English and psychology at Morehouse before he hopes to further his educational career at Harvard Law School in order to become a defense attorney.
“Eventually, I plan on starting my own law firm,” he added. “I might not have that much money, but if Google started in the garage in a two-bedroom house, so can I. I can start from the bottom and work my way up.”
It’s a plan that will make Chambers yet another Urban Prep success story.
“Urban Prep has a way of showing you your opportunities as a minority student,” 18-year-old Urban Prep student Joseph Olalusi, who attends the Englewood campus, told DNAinfo. “They help you find your identity and show you how to navigate through society as a Black man, and so I feel like that’s what a lot of Black men in Chicago are missing.”
Olalusi is another student with big dreams that prove the effectiveness of the Chicago school.
He has hopes of attending Cornell University to major in applied economics and management before starting his own nonprofit in Englewood that will pass on the lessons Urban Prep has taught him.
The nonprofit will focus on offering guidance and giving leadership skills to young men and women of color.
Another one of the Urban Prep seniors who received the scholarship, 18-year-old Chandler Harrington, also plans to attend Cornell but will major in biology instead.
All of the scholarship recipients have very different aspirations, but the one bond that connected them was the brotherhood they formed as young Black men at Urban Prep who were determined to make their life’s aspirations a reality.
Now they will continue the brotherhood they formed at Urban Prep throughout their college careers as Gates Millennium Scholars.