Angelique Hines - Why I Believe Memphis Academy

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I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago; I’ve spent most of my life in 3 communities: Roseland, Englewood, and Grand Crossing. I am currently in my final semester of college at Hope College, where I study Political Science and English as a double major. On campus, I have worked with college dining for the past four years and have served as student manager for the past two. I am involved with Black Student Union, and I have held the positions of Trustee, Historian, and Vice-President collectively for the past three years. This past semester, I served as Senior Class Representative with Student Congress. Along with this role, I sat on the Student Life Board. In the Holland community, I am a tutor for a non-profit program titled CASA and a volunteer mentor with the church’s Rock Youth Ministry. I am currently in D.C. completing a Washington Honors program and interning with Richard Durbin (D-IL). My interest in politics stemmed from my passion for justice and equality, which I’ve experienced a fair amount of in my life.

The largest injustice I have ever experienced has been in the education system. I grew up in the inner-city, attending Chicago Public Schools, and I didn’t realize how much students weren’t getting until I got to high school, and I saw how far behind my peers and I were. I came into high school with a 15 on the ACT, and I was in the “Honor’s Cohort,” so I don’t even need to state where other students were. However, my high school teachers worked hard, and they helped pull our scores up, so that we could have access to better colleges and quality education. I ended with a 23 on the ACT. The average for all students was almost a 21. When I got to college, I saw that even with as hard as my high school worked, it couldn’t fill the 8 years I was learning essentially nothing. Therefore, I began to conduct research. Why was it that a fellow student and I, both at the same institution, could have such a variance in knowledge? Why were we robbing students of a quality education? I realized that the foundations of the educational system, especially in the inner-city, were morally and objectively wrong. During the Great Migration, blacks migrated from the South to the North in search of a “better life.” They weren’t met with this, though. Young black children were placed in remedial classes, redlined to certain districts, and weren’t afforded the same educational opportunities as their white peers. This historical context began to answer many of my questions. Remember, less than 60 years ago, blacks couldn’t even attend the same schools as whites in the South.

I chose Memphis because my family’s roots are down South. Memphis is the city where King gave his final speech, passed on, and spent time working with the economic crisis. I have wanted to move back down South for years. I read a book titled The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, and she labeled the North as the “Kinder Mistress,” and I agree. My ancestors came here for a better life, and as you can see, they didn’t find that. Also, when I mentioned Memphis, everyone said “No, you don’t wanna go there,” which to me means I must “go there.” I am not afraid of hard work or the impossible; anything is possible if you put your mind to it. The education crisis is huge everywhere, but I knew that Memphis is the place for me to start my career. I was a part of the founding graduation class of Johnson College Prep, so when I was making my decision, I told myself “This won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.” My teachers were so passionate, so creative, and so patient with all of us. And I know for a fact that I was the worst, yet they never gave up on me and never allowed me to give up on myself. I want to be able to show my children that everything is possible, and I want to give them the education they deserve.

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Ms. Hines is an incoming Teach For America - Memphis Corps Member. While her story speaks for itself, it was her hunger to continue to learn, her attention to detail, and her thirst for excellence that convinced us she was meant to be a Badger. We look forward to seeing her thrive in the classroom and watching her push scholars to achieve their potentials.

Danny Song