With determination and support from MGP, our students and alumni are thriving in the face of never-before-seen challenges!
With students’ second one-on-ones with their coaches underway, we are able to assess their needs heading into a new semester as well as some incredible stories of success!
We caught up with MGP’s high school and college students to see how they’re doing at the start of the year. We’re proud of their accomplishments!
Nabila Chowdhury (MGP ’21)
This year, Nabila is counting her blessings. Her health, her family, her time in MGP and, most recently, her acceptance to Harvard College with a full ride scholarship.
Nabila is a senior at Renaissance High School where she is studying remotely this year. She’s using her extra time at home to be with her family and explore creative outlets like writing and drawing.
Her MGP Success Coach, Sydney Wilson, has provided her with priceless support and advice.
“Having Ms. Sydney as my success coach was like having a friend talk me through the process and give me meaningful advice,” Nabila says. “I had no clue on where to start or where I would be when it all ended but being able to talk to someone about it was so helpful! Also watching and hearing about other members’ experiences was so motivating and uplifting! It put a smile on my face seeing bright young adults in my community achieve their dreams and talk about their successes.”
Not hearing many stories of people from Nabila’s community getting into Harvard made her feel discouraged, but she wants everyone struggling with this feeling to believe in themselves and have courage to pave their own path. She details the moment she found out she was accepted:
“I knew results would be released at 7pm on the 17th in November because I was anxiously checking the Harvard website. My family was giving me space, sitting in different parts of the house but they were all anxious for the results like I was. I was keeping myself busy doing Calculus BC homework trying not to look at the clock. I ended up opening up the Harvard Portal five minutes after seven because I was giving myself a pep talk that sounded a little like “you’re more than a college acceptance” and “everything happens for a reason.” As soon as I started laughing and jumped off the couch, everyone ran from their corners of the house hugging and crying. I surprised my dad after he came back from work and thankfully we got that one on video! It was a beautiful moment I’ll keep with me forever.”
In college, Nabila is thinking about majoring in political science.
“No matter where I end up, my plan is to come back and give back to the community that raised me.”
McKinley Lowery III (MGP ’18)
McKinley credits the Midnight Golf Program as the reason he is studying at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. He is a junior majoring in business finance. He tutors in the business school, and just filed the paperwork to start his own clothing brand.
While the COVID-19 pandemic stopped him in his tracks last spring, forcing him to finish his sophomore year at home while his father was hospitalized with COVID-19 for two months, he has bounced back. His father is home and healthy, and McKinley returned to Norfolk for a virtual semester this fall and is going back to in-person classes this month. Midnight Golf helped him cover his financial gap for this semester.
McKinley completed a virtual internship for PricewaterhouseCoopers last summer and for Gucci’s Program for Scholars this fall.
When McKinley started at MGP, he was sure he was going to attend Grand Valley State University, even though he wanted to go out of state. It was when his mentor, Sommer Woods, said, “Never get comfortable being comfortable” that stuck with him as reevaluated his next steps. He called Norfolk State’s admissions officer and accepted their offer, which included financial aid.
He credits the skills he learned through MGP with the reason he has been so motivated to network and take advantage of his internship and other opportunities.
“I was more of a reserved introverted kid in high school,” McKinley said. “I wasn’t keen on building relationships with everybody. MGP pushed us to sit in the front, talk to people and pushed me outside my comfort zone.”
This summer McKinley is looking forward to going to New York City, where he will intern at JP Morgan.
After graduation, McKinley hopes to attend graduate school at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania or to Harvard. He is also interested in working for a year before starting a master’s program and focusing on his clothing business.
Photo 📸: @daphwilsn @lemonadelaide
Branden Nicholas (MGP ’20)
Branden keeps his book of notes from MGP’s life-skills training with him in his college dorm. He refers to it for priceless advice like where to sit in class, study habits and who to turn to when he has a question. He knows he is lucky to be living in the dorms and experiencing a normal college life amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. At Wittenberg University, where he is a freshman majoring in microbiology and biochemistry with a minor in Spanish, he is enjoying in-person classes and getting involved on campus.
When he joined Midnight Golf in the fall of 2019, Branden thought he would go to a big university but upon exploring his options and talking with his MGP coaches and mentors, he chose a smaller school.
“I was so focused on the schools that are immediately around me,” he says. “I got an eye-opener about other colleges at an MGP college fair. I went to [Wittenberg’s] table and saw their information and it seemed pretty cool.”
He received a scholarship to attend Wittenberg University, a liberal arts school in Springfield, Ohio with about 1500 students.
“I like the feel that I know familiar faces,” he says. “Also, a smaller college makes the difference when you get to know your professors.”
At Wittenberg, Branden is involved in the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative, an organization that packs and sends lunches to children in Lesotho, Africa. He is also in a cru mentorship program and Concerned Black Students, a group that empowers minorities on campus.
Branden is exploring internship and research opportunities, as well as taking classes, for the summer.
His advice to fellow MGP students is to “stay consistent, even when you’re filling out those resumes, stay consistent with it and something’s bound to go in your favor.”
Eva Oleita (MGP ’21)
Eva’s senior year of high school isn’t exactly how she envisioned it, but thanks to her MGP mentors and peers, she is staying motivated.
Eva is a senior at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and runs a social justice organization with fellow MGP student Ama Russell called BLMIAC (Black Lives Matter In All Capacities).
“This school year has been extremely hard and there are moments where I feel unmotivated, but seeing my MGP peers getting acceptances and scholarships despite everything going on motivates me to push hard,” Eva says.
Eva wants to attend Clark-Atlanta University or Spelman College to study biomedical engineering. She is pleased to have mentors like Winston Coffee, MGP College Success Coach & College Liaison.
“Despite us being virtual for the majority of the year, I have loved my MGP experience,” Eva says. “At first I was having doubts on how successful things would be because we aren’t doing things in the traditional sense, but the Zoom calls are still very personal and there is never a dull moment in my cohort.”
Her best experience with MGP so far was the life skills session devoted to public speaking, where each student was tasked with writing and delivering their own speech.
“It was great to see so many of my peers get raw with their emotions and share something that was near and dear to their heart or just overall interesting, because of those speeches we have definitely grown closer.”
Morgann Phillips (MGP ’19)
Morgann is currently a sophomore at Howard University, majoring in political science with minors in Spanish and history. Right now, she is studying virtually. She is also the community outreach chair for The Movement Street Organization, Incorporated, where she plans service events and helps to lead the organization.
Morgann has struggled to adjust to college life at home, especially after a busy freshman year. Last year, Morgann interned on Capitol Hill with Senator Debbie Stabenow, became a member of the Freshman Leadership Academy on Howard’s campus, and became a Junior Resident Assistant.
Morgann credits MGP with helping her find the right college – and gain confidence along the way.
“They encouraged me to apply to places that I thought were out of reach and supported me every step of the application process,” she says. “Their confidence in my abilities helped me gain that confidence within myself. When decisions started rolling in, they celebrated each acceptance with genuine happiness and were so proud of me.”
Morgann also attributes much of her success at Howard to the foundation set at MGP during her senior year of high school.
“The great thing about Midnight Golf is that it demands success from you,” she said. “MGP forced me to confront what I want to do with my life. And not only what I want to do, but how am I going to get there. Encouraging me to find my passion and giving me the resources necessary to fuel that passion helped me identify my career and personal goals. MGP also preached about consistency so they helped me to hold myself accountable when achieving my goals.”
She continues to reap benefits from being involved in Midnight Golf.
“As an alumna, I continue to gain rewards from MGP,” she says. “I’ve been put in contact with other alumni, such as a coworker I had at the Senate. I’m able to help incoming students transition to Howard and answer their questions. And I also get care packages and gift cards during my semesters. MGP is really special, there’s honestly nothing like it and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Ama Russell (MGP ‘21)
When she encounters a problem, Ama sees a solution. She is a senior at Cass Tech High School and a community change agent. She co-founded Black Lives Matter In All Capacities (BLMIAC) with fellow MGP student Eva Oleita. The organization focuses on empowering black individuals through action, awareness, and education.
Despite the pandemic, Ama is involved as the 2nd Vice President of the Co Ette Club, where she received the Spirit of Detroit Award. She was also a district ambassador for When We All Vote.
Through this work, she met Former First Lady Michelle Obama and was featured on the Conan O’Brian show. She has been published in ChalkBeat and The Detroit Free Press.
Even with remote school, Ama remains involved in debate and is a class officer.
Next year, Ama hopes to attend Howard University or Spelman College and major in political science. Her College Success Coach, Winston Coffee, has been instrumental in helping her with college fit.
“During our tee times, I am introduced to great HBCU options to make sure I am financially taken care of and that there are people to look out for me on campus,” Ama says. “Mr. Coffee has worked with me diligently, catering to any anxiety or questions I have. He has made the colleges of my dreams something I feel confident in obtaining because he has been so real about my need to get scholarships and assisting me with applications.”
The bi-weekly Zoom sessions with her MGP cohort have added some normalcy to this year for Ama.
“My Midnight Golf experience has been extraordinary! I have gained so many life skills, opportunities, and I’ve learned how to play golf,” she says. “Meeting, whether in person or not, has kept me motivated and excited about my future.”
The speech competition stands out as Ama’s most memorable experience in MGP so far.
“I never thought maybe a year ago today I would have the confidence to give a speech in front of over 100 people on Zoom, but thanks to Midnight Golf, my confidence has grown tremendously,” Ama says. “I feel so blessed to be a member of the ’21 cohort, and I’m so thankful for all of the love.”
Morgan Walker (MGP ’20)
Morgan is a freshman at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL, pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. She is a member of NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), the Underclassmen Leadership Academy, and the tennis team.
This year, she is living on campus and her classes are a mix of in person and virtual.
Her Midnight Golf experience was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but she remains in close contact with her mentors and peers. She also learned from the experts and professionals who participated in her life-skills training.
“Having MGP meetings was the highlight of my week. We were and still are a family,” she says. “MGP didn’t just teach me about college, they gave me countless lessons for every stage in my life. School related or not, they were always a second family to me.”
Morgan was thrilled to be accepted to her dream school, and feels her MGP mentors helped her prepare to go away to college.
“MGP really kept me on top of all my tasks in the college process,” she says. “Getting into my dream school was simple, but MGP pushed me to make those connections and network as much as possible to get scholarships and build relationships with those administrators early on. The amazing mentors and my student peers were there cheering me on every step of the way!”
She has relied on her mentors and peers for help as she navigates the COVID-19 pandemic.
“MGP has helped tremendously during COVID,” she says. “They are always sharing resources and different opportunities with us the moment they see them especially during the pandemic. My mentor is always there to answer any questions or just to talk. We even have a group chat with different MGP alumni that attended HBCUs and we always send job opportunities, good news, and encouragement. They helped me ease into college life and made my not so perfect end of high school a whole lot better.”