So, yesterday I celebrated my 65th birthday. The day started with the Morehouse College 133rd Commencement at 8 AM in Atlanta, GA. Ibrahim Apata, from Tampa, FL graduated with degrees in Physics AND Math! I met Ibrahim while he was a sophomore at Brooks-DeBartolo College Prep High School in Tampa. His guidance counselor at the time--Dr. Phyllis Hart--pointed him out to me since I was visiting the campus in search of "Gold!"
Ibrahim attended my 60th birthday celebration the following year at Cafe Kili. He brought his National Science Honor Society induction certificate since he understood how samples of Academic Excellence enrich the lives of others. This celebration was special also because another attendee, Savannah Bradley, showed me her Harvard Class of 2017 acceptance certificate.
In early 2014, Ibrahim received his acceptance letter from Morehouse College. I was attending a conference on "Revisiting Building the Breach" at Harvard's Graduate School of Education in mid-April. Then Morehouse president, Dr. Wilson, made a presentation during the jointly hosted conference with the Morehouse Research Institute. His remarks included describing Morehouse as the Mecca for African American men.
The financial aid packet that Ibrahim shared with me at the time said something different. It indicated an expectation that his single-parent mom would have to take out a $28,000 loan for each year of his education at Morehouse. Ibrahim did some talking making reference to Dr. Wilson's remarks. On his graduation day from Morehouse, the program said that those who walked across the stage had completed both their academic programs and their financial obligations to Morehouse. In other words, Morehouse held true to its commitment of providing access to its great education to young men whose families are not in a position to contribute significant financial resources.
Ibrahim is also the third of four Safiya and Daren Miller 'No Boundaries' Scholarship recipients to earn four-year degrees in four years or less from amazing colleges and universities.
Savannah was the first recipient in 2013 as she started her Harvard journey. Kirsten Redmon from my old high school in San Antonio received the second scholarship that year as she became a member of the Corps of Cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point.
Both recipients graduated in 2017 and both kindly invited me to be a witness to their journey and their commencement ceremonies. Joining Ibrahim at the the beginning of my 65th birth week to witness his graduation was a blessing up there with attending Harvard's graduation and the commissioning ceremony for Second Lieutenant Kirsten Redmon. Indeed, Ibrahim's graduation was the first time I have attended a graduation at an HBCU (Historically Black College / University).