Desmond and Kwaku: Excited for HBCUs

When Desmond, a student in Chicago, met Kwaku, he noticed that his new mentor wore a Knicks hat. The two sports fans struck up a conversation about basketball and football and hit it off.

“It’s been fun getting to know Desmond over the past few years and developing an honest and authentic relationship,” said Kwaku. “Kudos to the curriculum–it works.”

Kwaku and Desmond had a strong rapport, and Kwaku wanted to find ways to get Desmond, a high-energy teenager who loved to crack jokes, to take life after graduation more seriously. To Desmond, college seemed like a chore and a financial burden on his family.

As the two began meeting over Zoom instead of in person because of the pandemic, Kwaku decided to try something different. Every Wednesday, Kwaku invited one of his friends to join his virtual get-together with Desmond so that the mentee would have an opportunity to meet alumni from many different schools.

Desmond met graduates of schools like Vanderbilt, Howard, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue, and Morehouse. He heard firsthand from Kwaku’s friends how they enjoyed college life, what it was like to join a fraternity, and why alumni networks are important when you’re job hunting.

“When I met Kwaku’s friends, a switch was triggered. I felt like I could go straight to college. I was excited just to go learn,” said Desmond. The conversations were a revelation, and Desmond began to look forward to college. HBCUs rose to the top of his college list. After talking to Kwaku’s friend who had gone to Morehouse, Desmond quickly filled out the application for the school.

Sadly, tragedy struck twice in the late summer and fall. Desmond lost two friends to gun violence. One was his best friend, the week before the SATs. “We all had a promise that we'd make it out of our senior year and do big things in college,” said Desmond.

As Desmond grieved, Kwaku was there for him. Kwaku encouraged Desmond to keep his promise to his friends and go to college, and helped him see that his friends will be with him in spirit.

Desmond recently learned he was accepted to Morehouse, and was thrilled to share the news with Kwaku. In college, Desmond plans to major in entrepreneurship and business.