Encouragement, Support, Direction…
Three important elements everyone needs every day, especially students as they prepare for college!
Some find encouragement and support within their immediate family. Some find direction from teachers and counselors. Some develop an inner strength which helps to reveal the right path. For most, a combination of sources provide guidance, especially when one support system is not available or strong.
At Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) we strive to provide the Encouragement, Support, and Direction our students need to reach their full potential in life. Most importantly, we work every day to help each student harness and build strength from within.
Comer to College: A dream comes true for the students and
for the vision of Gary Comer
Here, a few of the recent graduates share their experiences from their first semester of college. 94% of GCYC’s 2012 seniors graduated and have enrolled in college. Going off to college is a huge transition. The Comer to College program stays in touch with its college freshman every week. These students were recently home for the holiday break. Here is what a few had to say about their first semester in college, their memories of high school and their advice to the current seniors.
We developed our school from the ground up… I am proud to be a first year graduate because we started everything…”
—Jamal Remir Staten, Southern Illinois University
The way I felt when leaving high school and going off to college was excited but serious at the same time because there are so many opportunities that you can come across as well as new things to experience. My initial thought of leaving home was that I am going to have somewhere else to call my home. It really made an impact on my life for a student like me now being independent, and going off on my own.
The day I left I couldn’t wait to finally get on campus because no one could tell me that I was a child. I believed as you go on with your life and also think about your future, you gain more control and sincerity of what your actions can do for you.
My first semester at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville was absolutely difficult. My classes were mostly difficult because of the self-prioritizing I had to do. That is one of the most important qualities to have in school because there are a lot of different assignments to complete from multiple classes.
As far as my social life, I have met a lot of people and been to a lot of social events. I also have been recognized by a lot of organizations such as Phi Beta Sigma and Sigma Pi.
The most vivid memory I have from high school was all the big projects we had to complete at Gary Comer College Prep (GCCP) and the Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC). My best memories are the sports, whether it was being team manager for the volleyball team or playing baseball. I believe the sports and activities are what brought everyone together.
We developed our school from the ground up to be one of the top schools of the south side of Chicago within just 4 years. That is why I am proud to be a first year graduate because we started everything, and it would be nothing if we didn’t set the bar to success so high for students that are younger than us.
There are three pieces of advice that I would like to give.
1. Do not let anyone discourage you and tell you that something is impossible because anything is possible for you to achieve as long as you have your mind set on the right goal.
2. Make sure you take advantage of everything you come across while in school because it will most definitely benefit you in the long term when it comes down to applying for jobs or for applying to college.
3. Make sure you keep your grades up because when you do so there will be so many open doors for you once leaving high school. For example, you could get into universities that no one would think you could get in, such as Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and Boston College, etc. It is your priority to make the right decisions in order to be successful.
Ultimately, I believe that GCCP and GCYC have made a large impact on the Grand Crossing community because it gives everyone a new start and more opportunities to be creative and successful with anything they want to achieve. There are multiple activities and events such as black history rallies, food sale events with Green Teens, the art program, and the multi-media program. They have opened up a lot of eyes for all ages in the community and as the years go, these two organizations will grow stronger in the community.
—Jamal Remir Staten
Looking back at what GCCP and GCYC meant to me and to my hometown is that both the school and youth center provide a constructive place for young people to be and help to better them for the future—be it through education or having positive people around to be role models.”
—Charles Abban, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
On the day that I left for college I felt anxious to get there and finally be on my own. There were other feelings like relief of finally being on my own and making it on my own. I wouldn’t say I was nervous because, thanks to my high school and scholarship program, I had lived on college campuses, taken classes, and got a feel for college and independent life.
My first semester academically could have been better but it was a learning experience. I was able to realize what I needed to be doing, as well as what I was not handling well. My social life was excellent due to my involvement in a fraternity as well becoming a DJ on campus.
When I am at school and GCCP pops up, the one thing I miss is having the large support group that was always around. College is somewhat the same, there are people that are there to help you with academics and you always make friends, but the feel of the high school relationship and bonds aren’t the same; regardless of the fact that it was only the first semester.
Looking back over my first semester I have two pieces of advice for the next graduating class:
1. Develop a form of studying that works best for you because college is based on studying and strong study habits.
2. Learn how to manage your time by following your own schedules, and keep in contact with the people that are trying to help you succeed.
Looking back at what GCCP and GCYC meant to me and to my hometown is that both the school and youth center provide a constructive place for young people to be and help to better them for the future– be it through education or having positive people around to be role models.