Meet Hermann. His dream is to become a doctor.
With tuition costs skyrocketing, college is a distant dream for many young people. For Mary's Center After School Program participant Hermann, however, that dream became a reality this year, when he was named a Gates Millennium Scholar. Among 57,000 applicants, Hermann is one of the 1,000 students selected nationwide to receive this prestigious award, which will underwrite his education through his Ph.D!
Today, Hermann is finishing his first semester as a freshman at Pennsylvania State University.
Hermann, whose family is originally from Cameroon in West Africa, was nominated for the scholarship because he had a consistently high grade-point average (GPA) in high school, and demonstrated leadership skills through participation in community service, extracurricular and other activities.
While he excelled academically, Hermann wasn't always sure if he would be able to pursue a college degree. "I can clearly remember my mom telling me that she was not sure how she would pay for my education," a humble Hermann said, "But now, with this scholarship, I have no limits. I am capable of anything I set my mind to".
Walter Castillo, a Youth Development Worker at Mary's Center, worked with Hermann during the three years he was a part of the After School Program . Castillo says Hermann is a born leader who takes charge when it comes to planning team activities. "He is a really engaging, dynamic kid. He is also humble, and an excellent big brother and son."
Hermann took part in a wide range of Mary’s Center workshops, including college readiness, college prep and the Summer Youth Employment Program, which is where he first learned about the scholarship opportunity.
"I must thank the Mary’s Center Teen Program for all their help. They have been such a warm, welcoming community. They included me in workshops on college readiness and college prep, as well as the Summer Youth Employment Program. I first heard about the Gates Millennium Scholarship during a Teen Program college and scholarship fair. They were the ones who encouraged me during the whole process, and now they are the ones cheering for me at the finish line. I am so thankful for Mary’s Center’ support and help. I would not be where I am today without them."
Every year, Mary’s Center engages more than 1,000 adolescents who come from challenging circumstances and are in need of a helping hand to keep them on the right path to realize their full potential. Mary’s Center provides a safe harbor for teens who are vulnerable to gang recruitment, drug use, and other illegal activity.
With your continued help, hundreds more students can break the cycle of violence and poverty and follow Hermann’s footsteps.