It's Academic

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It's Academic

Stories of high school and college success

The United States has often been called the land of opportunity.  For many, those words have rung hollow.  Still, hard working people from disadvantaged backgrounds often obtain high levels of achievement.  These memoirs offer examples of determined young people who have overcome tough obstacles to realize a portion of the American dream through academic success. 

A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind
Cedric Jennings graduated from Ballou High School. Although historically few graduates of this institution pursue higher education, young Cedric was determined, intelligent and strong. Following the advice of a favorite teacher, Cedric applied to, and was accepted into, Brown University. This poignant biography follows Cedric's journey from high school to an elite Ivy League institution in New England.  

Uncensored by Zachary R. Wood
Zachary was born in and spent his early years in Detroit. Gifted and curious, he was enrolled in several private schools by his mentally ill mother.  When a caseworker determined that Zachary was being abused, he was transferred from his boyhood home and sent to live with his father in Washington's Bellevue neighborhood. Commuting to the Bullis School in Montgomery County, Zachary continued his trajectory toward academic stardom, only to crash when several forged letters he penned were brought to the headmaster.  Unhampered by his departure from Bullis, he finished high school and enrolled at Williams College, from which he graduated in 2018. 
 
Unafraid of the Dark by Rosemary Bray McNatt
Born in the mid 1950's in Chicago, Rosemary Bray's parents sent her to a neighborhood parochial school.  The nuns who instructed her were impressed by her drive, and encouraged her to enroll in a college prep high school. Upon graduation, she entered Yale University and eventually became editor of the New York Times Book Review.  Author James McBride calls this book "a clear poignant eloquent account of a courageous young woman whose tortured father and heroic mother helped shape her destiny."

Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano
Growing up in the Bronx, this well known actress and author faced frequent exposure to family violence.  An impressive theatrical performer, she studied at the High School of the Performing Arts and Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University before returning to New York to appear in such Broadway hits as Godspell.  But perhaps her biggest break came when she was invited to appear in the revolutionary children's television show Sesame Street, where she created the role of Maria.
 
Black Ice by Lorene Cary
In 1971, the author, then 15 years old, won a scholarship to the formerly all-male St. Paul's School in Concord, NH.  Leaving her comfortable Philadelphia home and her family to attend the exclusive prep school, she struggled with the many adjustments this institution required of her.  She also thrived in the intense academic environment and was elected class vice president in her junior year.  After graduation, she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, returning to St. Paul's as a teacher and then as a trustee of the school.