By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
Wendell Phillips Academy seniors Daurice Lee and Alexis Hanks are on their way to college. The question is where will they go. Both have been accepted to more than 21 colleges and universities. As it turned out, all of their fellow graduating seniors are also off to the ivory tower. They will have a record amount of scholarship money to pay for their post-secondary education.
It’s an achievement that’s becoming a tradition at Chicago’s oldest and most storied Black high school. At a pep rally in the school’s auditorium on Friday, May 5, parents, friends and top school administrators celebrated the achievement for the third consecutive year. One by one, all 89 seniors announced their college choice as part of Decision Day, a nearly two-hour celebration that has as much pomp and excitement as the NFL Draft. Talented, smart and ambitious, they earned a school record of $10.3 million in scholarships.
Several weeks prior, Urban Prep Academy in Bronzeville also posted a 100 per cent college acceptance rate, for the fourth consecutive year. All 167 seniors at Urban Prep racked up a total of $6 million in grants and scholarships to some 125 unique colleges. Two students were accepted to 20 schools each. Two others account for more than $600,000 each in scholarship offers from all of the schools they got into.
At Wendell Phillips, parents beamed with pride as the seniors announced their post-secondary plans after years of hard work, homework and exams. After sitting through congratulatory speeches and musical performances, dozens of parents, relatives and fellow students watched each senior present their college choice on a projection screen.
Historically Black schools, Alabama State University and Central State University, along with Northern Illinois University in DeKalb were the most popular choices for Wendell Phillips seniors.
Malcolm Fox will attend Wesleyan University, a private school in Middleton, Connecticut. Fox, who played on the 2015 state championship team at Wendell Phillips, is also an academic achiever who received eight scholarships that will fully pay for his college education at Wesleyan, where annual costs of tuition, room and board and fees is $64,188, according to the university’s website.
Fox was among a select few applicants accepted in Wesleyan’s early admission program. Fox was admitted to several other colleges, but said Wesleyan was the most prestigious. He plans to major in economics and major in data analysis. An athlete, Fox said he plans to join the football team at Wesleyan. He told the Crusader that he’s considering a professional football career.
“That’s a dream but that’s not what I’m shooting for right now. I’m focused on academics,” he said. “I just look at reality and understand that sports is not going to always be there.”
Some 925 miles away, Wendell Phillips senior Shamara Patnett will be studying mechanical engineering at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She won the school’s prestigious four-year POSSE scholarship. Scholarship applicants must go through a rigorous interview process that seeks high achieving seniors with leadership abilities. Annual tuition and room and board fees at Trinity cost $69,020 per year.
Patnett said she chose Trinity because the school has a strong mechanical engineering program. Hundreds of miles away from home, Patnett hopes her college experience will be a journey of self-discovery.
“Being that far away from home is going to be my introduction to adulthood, independence and maturity,” she said. “I’m going to be able to explore potential passions by taking acting and computer science classes.”