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Learning to Lead Beyond the Basketball Court

“Feeling bad for people isn’t going to help them. I want to be in a position where I can actually do the work and make a difference,” says Lake View High School senior, Humar Gbadegesin. Humar, like many high school seniors across the country, is contemplating which college will be the best fit for him to attend this fall, and which path will allow him to have the biggest impact.

However, going to college wasn’t always Humar’s plan. When he was only a year old, his parents emigrated from Nigeria to Chicago. Humar stayed in Nigeria with his grandmother and aunt until he was seven, when he finally moved to the U.S. to live with his parents. The move was a major adjustment, as the culture was noticeably different and as were the family dynamics he was accustomed to in Nigeria. But Humar’s outgoing and friendly nature helped him quickly find his place and thrive within his new community.

“I’m cool with everybody and I love putting myself out there.”

Humar always had a knack for learning, but when he entered his freshman year of high school, his outgoing nature clashed with his academics as his friendships began to take top priority. When he joined the school’s basketball team, his focus on academics waned even further as he followed the motto, “ball is life.”

In his sophomore year Humar had an epiphany: “I knew the NBA wasn’t in my future, but basketball opened doors for me.” He realized he wanted to learn what goes into a a basketball game beyond the court. Humar found interest in different coaching and training methods and began coaching middle school students in football, basketball, and track and field.

Humar’s success at leadership empowered his decision to shift his energy from sports to academics. He became more engaged in his studies and was introduced to College Possible by his family members. Despite his mental shift, Humar’s start with the program was difficult and he recalls taking his first practice SAT test with disdain as his score was significantly lower than what he had anticipated. While discouraged, Humar leaned on College Possible and his coach, Marina, for advice on how to tackle each section of the test. Coaches teach study habits and time management skills during their weekly after-school sessions. As his confidence and new purpose grew, so did his commitment to attending College Possible sessions.

“After just a few sessions I saw major improvements in my PSAT score. I felt so smart and I felt like I had a new purpose.”

Now Humar’s time in high school is ending and while he continues to be passionate about extracurricular activities, education has become his top priority. He credits Marina for helping him shift his focus and realize that a college degree will put him on the path to being an impactful leader . Humar has already earned acceptance to six universities, including Northern Illinois University and Illinois Wesleyan University, and is working with Marina to carefully evaluate financial aid packages and academic programs before making his choice. He plans on majoring in accounting or marketing, but is looks forward to taking other subjects. With College Possible in his corner and his natural ability to lead, Humar is confident he will be successful in college and beyond.

“I’ve always had this thirst for knowledge, and I know going to college is will be that fulfilling experience I’ve been waiting for.”

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