Arnesia Banks


How I Became the First Person in My Family to Go to College

Arnesia Banks, a senior at Gary Comer College Prep, on how she beat the odds.

Last week, the principal of Chicago's Gary Comer College Prep wrote about how 100 percent of the school's seniors have been accepted to four-year universities. Now it's the students' turn to share their stories.

No one expects a girl like me to go to college. I'm black and from the Grand Crossing community on the south side of Chicago. The vast majority of the people in my neighborhood aren't college educated. Every day when I walk to and from school, I worry about my safety as I hear police sirens or see teenage boys on the corner hustling for money. No one else in my family has gone to college and my dad has been in prison most of my life. I worry about my brother because of his involvement with gangs. But this fall I'll defy the odds when I write "Arnesia Banks" at the top of my first paper as a freshman at Boston College.

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