by Corey Hardiman, AVID Alumnus
I grew up on the far Southside of Chicago in the community of Roseland. Because of the violence and tragedy that plague Roseland, it is not desirable for raising a family. It is no safe haven, and day-to-day living can be a struggle. It is a community where violence has taken over and young people are often killed. However, every dark tunnel has a light at the end of it. I am proud to say that AVID was one of the programs that allowed me to see and reach for that light at the end of my tunnel.
As a young man, I sought out male role models because my father was absent from my life due to choices he made when I was a child. When I was in the sixth grade, my father was indicted on criminal charges for selling narcotics. This was a very low time in my life because my father was both my motivator and best friend. As a young boy, you look up to your father and often follow his lead. However, my father informed me that his path was not one I should choose. After my father’s sentencing, I realized that I had to make a name for myself. I focused on becoming not just a leader but a great leader with passion and compassion to support people and communities.
Nearly 10 years later, I am a junior studying political science at Morehouse College. Many said this day would never come. Many felt I would follow the misguided road of my father. However, I am making better choices for my life and creating a path for my children to one day follow that will lead them to an even better future than mine.
While in high school, I held several leadership positions, such as senior class president, local school council president and treasurer of the National Honor Society. At the same time, I was preparing to transition from high school to college. Yes, many days I felt overwhelmed dealing with so many roles as a leader.
However, it was my AVID teacher, Mrs. Krista Youngblood-Hudson, who imparted to me that I was called to be a leader for my generation. In my AVID class I was always given the floor to lead discussions especially during philosophical chairs. I always wanted to be in the “hot seat” to discuss topics such as the Holocaust or youth violence. It was during these AVID experiences that I realized my potential as a leader.
During my last year of AVID, I was excited about applying for collegeand finding funds to cover expenses. This process became one of the most successful of my life because I had great support - AVID and Mrs. Krista Youngblood-Hudson. While many people stress out during their senior year, I was actually enjoying fulfilling AVID’s vision for my future. So, with hard work and dedication, my AVID class became the home of success. In this class I wrote my essays for the Gates Millennium Scholarship and applied to Morehouse College. Having a dedicated helper and instructor, I became a Gates recipient and a Man of Morehouse.
While here at Morehouse, I find myself using so many skills I acquired while taking AVID in high school. One of those skills was organization. It took me a while to understand why we spent so much time focusing on organization in high school. We had to use the “blue binder” to organize our papers for our classes! Oh, how I hated carrying around that binder – and knowing that we had binder check every Friday was an even bigger hassle for me in high school. However, as time progressed, I began to have a great appreciation for planning and organizing because it has been the back bone of both my academics and leadership. So, today I am a well-organized young man who finally appreciates the moments of having the blue binder in high school.
Another skill I use effectively in college today is the Cornell note-taking. Taking notes in Cornell note-style improves my comprehension in class. We are given so much information in college that it is impossible to write everything the professor is teaching. I credit my note taking and organization skills to the AVID program.
For all of the students currently enrolled in AVID today - from one alumnus to you, I know that AVID can seem repetitive and overwhelming some days. Just know that AVID is preparing you for a great future with limitless opportunities. I did not fully appreciate those moments in AVID class like I do today in my college classes. The process of AVID preparing us for college is greatly appreciated when you begin utilizing the skills they prepped you with throughout high school. Be appreciative today because tomorrow you with be thankful for what I call the AVID rewards of preparing you for the future.
I know it is because of AVID that I have become a successful first-generation college student. Having no guidance at home on how to prepare for college because I am the first one to go—makes me love AVID as if it was my million-dollar lottery ticket. I give credit to one of the most skillful AVID instructors I know, Mrs. Youngblood-Hudson. It is because of AVID that I am enrolled in college today.
Corey Antonio Hardiman is currently a rising senior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where he is majoring in political science. He has studied abroad with a focus on social problems and inequalities. He also serves as the Campus Based Leader for Gates Millennium Scholars, President of Morehouse Political Science Association and Facilitator of AVID- Morehouse Alumni Association. As part of his social activism, Corey created a movement called “Enough Chicago” to help shed light on the violence that is affecting his childhood community. After he graduates from Morehouse College in 2014, he plans to attend Loyola University School of Education in Chicago to obtain his Ph.D. in Education Policy. Corey’s future plans include becoming a political consultant, politician and CEO for a nonprofit.