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Opportunities Matter  

By Corey Hardiman, AVID Alumnus

As a young man from the horrifying streets of Chicago, to a soon-to-be Morehouse man—I am reminded of what America has to offer when we work hard as individuals and as a country to create opportunities. Hard-working people should have opportunities in America. President Obama reinforced this sentiment a week ago in his State of the Union address.

Our country has to reshape the job market to enable my generation to push for an education through hard work, so we can graduate and have great opportunities in our very own communities. We, as a country, cannot progress if we cannot set aside our political ideologies and understand that affording each and every citizen in America the opportunity to succeed is a priority.

One of the most inspiring moments of the speech was when he stated, “And I'm reaching out to some of America's leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.” Data extracted from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress and published by Michael Holzman reported that 90% of 8th grade African American males are not reading at proficiency level. This brought back memories of programs like AVID that have pushed me not only through high school, but also on my journey through college. With the AVID Alumni Association I have been able to engage students at Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University on how to successfully find scholarships and internships that match them. The AVID Alumni Association has enabled college students like me to fully realize the power of networking, allowing us more opportunities to succeed in college and our future careers. Initiatives like this that invest in the well-being of former AVID students, especially young men of color from extreme circumstances like myself, and help build more sustainable and reliable communities are essential to this nation and to the world.

All Americans, no matter how young, can take action to help themselves and their communities. Knowing the importance of what it means to ‘invest’ in our youth, I decided to create my own act of advocacy and action in my hometown. So, I created a grassroots action organization known as “Enough Chicago” that combats violence, poverty, and income inequality and inspires young people to become more politically engaged. Through Enough Chicago, I have initiated a scholarship program to help promote excellence for first-year college students from my alma mater, Corliss High School. My philosophy is ‘being young is the time to act and not wait’—which simply means you can make a difference now. We as a country must work collectively to be the change we want to see. 

I encourage President and First Lady Obama to continue to reiterate that the only way we can decrease violence and increase opportunities is through educational programs that are linked to college or a trade field, mental health awareness, and employment opportunities allowing on-site skill training. High crime rates, poverty, and hopelessness in many of our urban communities must come to an end, which will only happen with an active congress and active communities that understand the urgency of immediate education and workforce opportunities.

Corey Antonio Hardiman is currently a graduating 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 will be running for a seat on Chicago’s City Council. Corey’s future plans include becoming a political consultant, politician, and CEO for a nonprofit. Learn more about Corey in his previous blog post, My AVID Story.

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