The Oregonian‘s North Portland beat reporter Casey Parks recently profiled Minds Matter Senior and Gates Millennium Scholar Angeleesha Frierson. You can read the text below.
Angeleesha Frierson, Gates Millennium Scholar, will graduate from North Portland nonprofit ‘Minds Matter’
Angeleesha Frierson hasn’t had time to think about what she’ll do with her Saturdays. The 17-year-old has given them up the last three years of high school.
While other kids shot hoops or went to the mall, Frierson studied.
This week, for the first time since she enrolled in the Saturday college-preparatory program Minds Matter, Frierson won’t have anywhere to be. She and 13 other students on Saturday graduated from the nonprofit program, which aims to send underprivileged high school students to college.
But before she plans anything fun, Frierson has something bigger to decide. Where will she go to college?
More than half a dozen schools have accepted her. And money doesn’t matter — Frierson won aGates Millennium Scholarship, which means Bill Gates’ foundation is paying for her to go anywhere she chooses. If only she could choose.
“I got it down to five schools now,” the Jefferson High School senior announced on Facebook earlier this spring. By April, she had scratched Seattle Pacific University, Mills College and the University of Oregon from her list. It was Spelman College or Howard University, she said.
By her teachers’ and family’s account, Frierson is bright, kind and focused. She writes poetry and played center on the school basketball team. She’s quiet, but she has led Jefferson’s student government and its sustainability club.
Still, success was not the most obvious path for her. She has always struggled with procrastination. Her family had no connections to offer her. And when Frierson was in junior high, her mother was incarcerated. Frierson spent weekends taking two buses and one long sidewalk to visit her mother at the Inverness Jail in far Northeast Portland.
Her mother was out by the time Frierson reached high school, but Frierson didn’t want to fill her Saturdays with any kind of trouble, so she signed up for Minds Matters.
Volunteers run the seven-year-old Portland chapter of Minds Matter. Students apply their freshman year and spend Saturdays of their sophomore, junior and senior years at Self Enhancement, Inc. working toward that goal.
Students and mentors read The New York Times together, analyzing current events. A tutor guides them through improving writing and test-taking skills. Their junior year, the students study together for the ACT and SAT. With mentors’ help, they write college application essays and apply for scholarships.
Because most of the students are the first in their family to attend college, they often don’t have anyone to guide them through the college and scholarship application processes. The program pairs students with one mentor and one tutor, a Portland-area professional who knows how to maneuver in the higher education system. Together, they tackle FAFSA and deadlines.
The program also offered Frierson a chance to spent each summer preparing for a career in law. One summer, she went to the University of Chicago, where she attended a law and advocacy conference and participated in mock trials. The next summer, she headed to the University of California at Berkeley, where she spent a month taking college classes.
All of this looked good on those college applications, and by February of her senior year several had offered her large scholarships. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offered her the biggest scholarship of all — a full ride to any school in the country, with the possibility of free graduate school, too.
About 54,000 apply for the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, and 1,000 win one. This year 20 of those were from Oregon, and two of those were Minds Matters students: Frierson and Kevin Truong of Benson High School.
With one day left to tell the colleges — she may be a scholar, but she’s still a procrastinator — Frierson made a decision. In the fall, she’ll move to Washington, D.C., to attend historically black private school Howard University.
Until then, she has a summer’s worth of Saturdays to spend any way she wants.
Minds Matter Portland has two Gates Millennium Scholars in the 2013 graduating class. Congratulations to Kevin Truong of Benson High School and Angeleesha Frierson of Jefferson High School!
Of 54,000 students that apply for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, 2,000 are selected as finalists, and 1,000 receive it. Oregon has 20 recipients total.
The Oregonian recently profiled Angeleesha.
The Walker Family Foundation has established a scholarship program for a Minds Matter senior who meets certain criteria. Read on to find out who qualifies.
Purpose of Scholarship:
To award an educational scholarship annually to a graduating Minds Matter Portland senior who has
demonstrated the traits listed in the Grantee Profile.
Amount of Scholarship:
The scholarship is $3,000 per year, for up to four years (a maximum total of $12,000 per student)
if the recipient/grantee maintains eligibility.
Amount of Earned Grant:
In addition to the scholarship, the recipient of the award will have also simultaneously earned for
Minds Matter – Portland Chapter a single year Grant from the Walker Family Foundation in the amount of $3,000.
Number of Scholarships:
One scholarship will be awarded per year.
The Scholarship will go to the student who demonstrated the highest level of merit in the
combined areas of Leadership, Scholarship, Citizenship, and Sportsmanship while enrolled in Minds Matter – Portland Chapter.
Grantees must be/become enrolled in a qualified and accredited higher educational organization
and make satisfactory progress toward completion of a degree. Scholarship funds may only be used for educational purposes, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for educational courses. Grantees may not be related to Walker Family Foundation trustees or Selection Committee members.
At least 3 representatives chosen by Minds Matter – Portland Chapter, and one representative of
the Walker Family Foundation shall serve on the selection committee.
Grantees would be selected and informed in their senior year. Funding for scholarship grants and the grant to Minds Matter – Portland Chapter would be in time for fall tuition payments.
Complete a MMMSA Application Form on-line by the deadline listed.
Manage a Scholarship Program with WizeHive
About three and half years ago, Wayne Wischmann first walked into a Minds Matter Portland Saturday Session and began his three-year journey as a mentor. After his mentee graduated last spring and headed off to college, Wayne briefly considered taking a year off and figuring out where he would best fit in to Minds Matter when he came back. Minds Matter Portland, however, had different plans for Wayne. Wayne inquired about what other roles he might take on where support was needed, and before he knew it, Wayne was anointed the Program Director!
As Wayne jumped into this new role, he found he was able to make an impact beyond the class of 45 or so mentees and mentors he had brought fun, energy, deep thoughts and levity to over the previous three years of his involvement.
When you ask around Minds Matter, “What does Wayne bring to Minds Matter?” you get a lot of responses. You get words and phrases like “laconic”, “strong but flexible”, “cool under fire”, “student-centered”, “true team player”, and “omni-present”.
Wayne’s dedication to really knowing and understanding Minds Matter inside and out has been noted, and he can be seen and heard through the entire organization with his focus on being available and of use; he was even found busy judging at the first annual “reindeer games” when mentees transformed themselves into human snowmen this past December. What versatility! Wayne has already managed to bring heart and backbone to most parts of Minds Matter, with a generous and caring nature that shows up each Saturday wearing work clothes.
What keeps Wayne doing all that he does, and how did we find him? Wayne first heard about Minds Matter Portland from a friend of his from graduate school who encouraged him to look into becoming a mentor. Her instincts were right, and after looking into the program, Wayne found that he “connected with the concept and principles of the program”. Wayne says he stays involved because he is inspired by our mentees, and the fact that they come every Saturday for over four hours because they want to be there. He appreciates that they are willing to put in the extra time to improve their path in life, and the fact that this organization can take kids who want to be there, and provide them with that chance and direction. Earlier in his volunteering, Wayne says the words of another mentor stuck in his head, that the motivation to be involved with Minds Matter comes from “…wanting to see the rest of the story for each mentee”. Wayne, who holds his Associate’s Degree at High-Tech Institute (University of Montana), and his Bachelor’s in Business Management and a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Technical Management (University of Phoenix), is making sure that our students continue to have direction and opportunities and can continue to have support in opening those doors to their future educational goals.
So what does Wayne wish for and expect from Minds Matter? He says he can sum that up in one word. Growth. Wayne has his sights set on supporting MM to grow in many directions, from the curriculum and experience offered to mentees, to the number of potential mentees that we can get the word out to. And then once the word is out, making sure that the growth is there in the infrastructure, so that the number of spaces we can provide to those potential mentors can be larger, and supported by enough volunteer mentors and fundraising efforts. As those of us who volunteer with Wayne have found, Wayne is “… willing to take on tasks of any measure…” and does not shy away from a challenge.
So Wayne, good luck and thank you as you start achieving this goal. Students, mentors, mentees, and volunteers alike are lucky to have Wayne helping steer this ship, and if Wayne’s favorite thing about Minds Matter is that the kids want to put in the extra time…it might just be Minds Matter’s favorite thing about Wayne is that he is consistently willing to put in the extra time himself. Wayne and Minds Matter Portland might just be a pretty good fit for each other.
Some very generous community businesses are supplying Minds Matter with tasty brainfood on a budget. Organizing lunch for 50 very hunger high schoolers every Saturday, it is safe to say, is one of the biggest challenges for Minds Matter volunteers.
As any parent knows, it can be tough to please a hungry but discerning audience of teenagers. Minds Matter is grateful for the local businesses that have provided a wide array of fresh and delicious lunches this year.
Noodles & Co in the Pearl District, our newest lunch partner, donates about 30% of the food we order and provides free bread.
Eryka Island, a Senior at Jefferson High School and Minds Matter student, had the opportunity to expand her horizons by participating in the Doha GOALS Forum in Education City, Qatar. Eryka was one of 400 high school and college students chosen to attend this program.
Education City is an area of Qatar. Elite universities from around the world have recognized the opportunity in this region and have descended on this modern and affluent peninsula country in the Persian Gulf to expand their international presence and gain a unique perspective from the culture and its people.
Doha, the capitol of Qatar, and, more specifically, Education City have focused on utilizing traditional areas of education – the sciences, humanities, classics, and the like – to bring about change in this region. Yet, leaders from around the world recently descended upon Education City to utilize a very non-traditional area of education to create social change during the Doha GOALS Forum – sport.
Created, funded, and led by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, The Emir of Qatar, the goal of the Doha GOALS Forum was to bring together thinkers and influencers from around the world to use sport to create social initiatives that instigate social change around the world. The three day event in December 2012 consisted of lectures, task forces, and debates with some of the most famous and influential heads of state, policymakers, NGO’s, federation heads, athletes, corporate executives and students to create a roadmap to achieve social involvement.
For Eryka, the door to this experience was opened through her participation in the Wharton Sports Business Academy at the University of Pennsylvania this summer, her Minds Matter Summer Program. As one of the elite universities in Education City, Penn was provided the opportunity to hand select 25 of their brightest Sports Management undergraduate and graduate students, as well as 25 of their Sports Business Academy high school participants for the Doha GOALS Forum. Each student was provided with an all-expense paid trip to Doha to participate in the festivities.
During her time with a fellow student from China, she learned that physical education is not a requirement in schools, because they country feels it will not help them in their careers in the future. Unless children are identified from an early age as having a great aptitude for a certain sport and are sent to a special school to develop their skills, sport does not play a dominant role in Chinese students’ lives.
Eryka’s participation in the Women and Sports Task Force also truly impacted her. Women in the Middle East have a strong desire to play sports, but stay on the sidelines, because of religious and societal issues; many women feel others who are devoutly religious or of an “old world” mentality will lose respect for them if they play sports. Eryka and the team were tasked with brainstorming ways to encourage female participation in sports, based on their positive experiences as women in sports.
In all, the experience provided Eryka with a whole new perspective about the power of sports and its role in society. “I am so appreciative of my experience with sports,” Eryka said. “In the US, I can play sports and do what I love without penalty or anyone holding me back. I hope the whole world can experience sports like I have some day.”
Minds Matter student Kevin Truong, a junior at Benson Polytechnic High School, helped craft four potential capitol bond proposals for the Portland School Board to consider. The board could vote this month to refer a bond measure to the November ballot.
Nhuyen Hoang, a Minds Matter student, attended Marshall High School until the Portland Public School District made a decision to close it after the 2011 school year, Nhuyen’s junior year. A local photographer and Marshall High graduate documented the transition of Nhuyen and her friend Jazzmine as they completed their senior year at Franklin High School.
From Oregon Public Broadcasting:
A Year At Franklin
Photographer Tory Campbell documented the aftermath of the closing of Marshall High at the end of the 2010- 2011 school year by following students Nhuyen Hoang and Jazzmine Alcala as they they made the transition to attending Franklin High School.
Photos and Audio by Tory Campbell.
Produced by Michael Clapp.
The May 2012 Newsletter features profiles of each of our graduating seniors. Download it in PDF format.