Brandon H. was the student with a lot on his plate. He balanced school with National Honor Society, Louder Than a Bomb competition, Mikva Challenge, student government, policy debate, and the entrepreneurship club to name a few. His extracurricular activities in high school not only helped him achieve academically—he was valedictorian and earned a Posse Scholarship—but also helped him to excel in college and life.
Brandon says that the skills he is using now, as a Denison University student, he was using in those clubs. Even more, he says that he gained his current job because his employer saw that he had a history of going above and beyond.
While Brandon reflects fondly on his time as a student in the Chicago Public School system, not everything about his school experience was perfect. There were times when he didn’t feel safe going to and from school, because of violence in the neighborhood.
“I’ve been robbed a couple times at gunpoint, there was a time where I was jumped by a gang of 14 guys for looking at a guy the wrong way, one time a guy pulled a gun on me simply because my gloves had red in them.” Despite these experiences, Brandon was very positive about his academic and extracurricular experience with Chicago Public Schools. He recognizes that the school did everything they could to make him, and his peers, feel safe while at school, but that sometimes what is happening in the community is hard to keep out of the school environment.
“Education was my only way to have economic and social freedom…I can get any job I want, go after any goal I am looking for…I can start my own business, run for government, make social change…but I can’t do that without education,” says Brandon.
Brandon says that if there was one thing he would change about education it would be funding. “Educators are extremely hard working people, but at a certain point you are going to get the amount that you invest. If you have an extremely talented person out there, who wants to make change…and if teachers aren’t going to get paid that much then you are going to miss out on a really good opportunity to have a strong person leading a classroom. I think the Chicago education system should start treating teachers as if they are the strongest investors within a community. Once you get that, you get better mentors, better programs, and better outcomes.”