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Stories

Emerging Leader

“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 immigrated to the United States from Nigeria to settle down in 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 the dynamics between Humar and his siblings and parents contrasted to what he was accustomed to in Nigeria. But Humar’s outgoing and friendly nature allowed him to find his place within his new community and school in no time. “I’m cool with everybody and I love putting myself out there,” he states. Humar was quickly able to thrive in his new home.

In addition to possessing an exceptionally friendly disposition, Humar has also always had a knack for learning. But once he entered his freshman year of high school, his outgoing nature proved to be a challenge to his academics when his friendships began to take top priority. Then, when he joined the school’s basketball team, his focus on academics waned even further as he followed the motto, “ball is life.” But Humar had an epiphany in his sophomore year: “I knew the NBA wasn’t in my future, but basketball opened doors for me.” He realized that he wanted to learn what happened off the basketball court to make the game happen. Humar followed this new direction and developed an interest in different coaching and training methods, as well as leadership roles, and began coaching middle school students in football, basketball, and track and field.

Humar’s interest in and ability to lead also empowered his decision to shift his energy from sports to academics during his sophomore year of high school. He became more engaged in his studies and was introduced to College Possible by his family members, though his start with the program was difficult. When he reflected on it, he talked about taking his first practice SAT test with disdain — his score was significantly lower than what he had anticipated. While discouraged, Humar continued to lean on College Possible and his coach, Marina, for advice on how to tackle each section of the test. Coaches like Marina help students by teaching useful study habits and time management skills during their weekly after-school 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.” As his confidence and new purpose grew, so did his commitment to attending College Possible sessions.

Humar’s time in high school is now coming to an end, 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 come to the conclusion that a college degree would be the surest way to make an impact and become the leader he knows he can be. He has already earned acceptance to six universities, including Northern Illinois University and Illinois Wesleyan University, and is now working with Marina to carefully evaluate financial aid packages and academic programs before deciding where he will spend the next four to six years of his life. He plans on majoring in accounting or marketing, but is also looking forward to taking other subjects. “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.” With his natural ability to lead, and with College Possible by his side, Humar is confident that he will be successful in college and beyond.

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