Founded by the late Larry Hawkins in 1968, the Office of Special Programs-College Prep (OSP) at the University of Chicago has been empowering Chicago high school students to imagine and prepare for bright futures for more than 50 years.
The goal of the program is to provide Chicago Public School students living in the communities near the University’s campus with the knowledge and skills to prepare them for college and career success. Activities include tutoring, academic advising, and enrichment on topics ranging from STEM to financial literacy. In a typical year, OSP offers students nationwide college tours and weeklong live-in programs on campus. This year, due to the pandemic, programming has shifted online.
“This year COVID inspired us to rethink how we operate. Through virtual platforms, we’re able to continue to deliver a wide range of academic supports and enrichment classes as well as activities that encourage college planning and career exploration,” Dovetta McKee, Director of the Office of Special Programs-College Prep at UChicago, said during a recent interview with host Cliff Kelly on WVON’s America’s Heroes Group show.
Citizen Milton, a high school junior who lives in South Shore, joined the program in 2019 and says a summer molecular engineering course he took through OSP may inspire him to pursue the field as a career. In the meantime, Milton is focused on applying to colleges — a process he and his mother say OSP has helped demystify.
“Watching his evolution has been an extraordinary process,” Citizen’s mother, Trudy Beaubrun, told Kelly on America’s Heroes Group. “This program not only gives them college readiness and introduces them to the process but it also gives them the empowerment and training that they need for life beyond the classroom — how to interact with people outside their network, how to talk to professors, how to become advocates for themselves. Those are skills that are not necessarily things they’re going to learn in school so I’m truly grateful for this program.
Applications for the program’s next cohort are due by Nov. 15 for a January start date. There is no cost to participate in the program or to apply.
OSP’s Upward Bound program serves ninth through twelfth graders from Walter H. Dyett High School for The Arts, Hirsch Metro High School, Hyde Park Academy, and Wendell Phillips Academy, as well as students who live in the Douglas, Greater Grand Crossing, Washington Park, or Woodlawn communities. A second program, the University of Chicago STEM Initiative (UCSI), serves high school students attending Chicago Public High Schools throughout the city.
OSP serves more than 100 students each year and since its founding has helped more than 3,000 South Side students prepare for college, apply successfully, and go on to fulfilling careers.
The program’s founding in 1968 made UChicago one of the first universities in the nation to partner with the federal government on a suite of programs — including Upward Bound — that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve academic success.
The Rise of the Woman Advocate
The 2020 Elections have brought many surprises to the world. In the U.S., we’re finally exploring what other countries have experienced, and its long over-do. Although we can’t predict what November 11, 2020, will reveal, we can acknowledge how far we’ve come. Up until now, it took tremendous energy to have a woman nominated for senior leadership in higher command. The United States is way behind the curveball, and it’s an excellent opportunity to ride the momentum.
We now have an example of tenacity before our eyes to strive for our wildest dreams, be intentional, and reinforce believing in ourselves. We view the flow of Kamala Harris as she faces daily opposition to her femininity. Whether you agree with her political view or not, it’s great to see the progress women have made over the years, and it’s worthy of celebration.
For years, women have been seen as the side-kick of her mate and rarely taken seriously. Although in most cases, she’s running the strategic matters of her household. We’ve had beautiful examples of feminists like Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama (and too many other women to number) in years past as role models who openly displayed their willingness to be different and stand up for what’s right and its cost. None-the-less, their boldness has changed the appearance of women being timid, weak, and not seen or heard.
Women have paved the way for us to make our mark in history. From 100 years of suffrage to the 45-year history of the Voting Rights Act, more women have entered the political body to participate through inclusion, leadership positions, and the workforce. We’ve come a long way, baby, and there’s still work required.
Where would you start if it’s the beginning of your journey?
Start with your genuine interest or passion. Get involved with your local community and offer leadership skills or trade services. Always lead with your compelling purpose. You’ll know if you’re passionate about it because you’ll feel the change you’re making. Select an area that will make a difference for humanity, women and children, a place of wellness, or even the political arena. Of course, these are only a few areas. The point is to start somewhere. Consider the change you’re here to make and what impact your participation can have on the planet. If you don’t have adequate time to lead in your community, support other women who are advocates. It’s our responsibility to march forward and create the change we desire to see. Our participation will determine the future of our daughters and granddaughters. So, consider your meaningful input and support the women who are at the forefront of the change we’re encountering today.
The November election will probably become the most important action we can take in this decade to forward the movement and advocate for the woman’s role. We can choose to catapult equal rights for women, let our voices be heard, or permit the struggle we’ve experienced to continue. We all must do our part and let our actions speak for what we expect in the future. Be brave, be motivated, get out and vote, and advocate for your future. Your legacy depends on it because now is the time for the woman advocate.
Sistah Soldier is an inspirational leader who helps veterans, women, and minorities step into God’s call for their lives using their creative skills. She’s the CEO, Host, and Executive Producer of SHE VET iNSPIRES Television Show and the Executive Recruiter for SHE MediaTech™.