Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
On his resume he describes such cultivated skills as being cooperative, reliable, interpersonal and genuine; refined traits quite appropriate for his sales associate part-time job at an area department store.
He is young, gifted, and Black and a senior at Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin. David Pontes is an exemplar model of a student scholar. His current overall 3.30 GPA and 24 cum ACT average for example earned him an invitation to the highly selective 100 Black Men Chicago Chapter sponsored Honor Student Reception (HSR) held at the UIC Forum on the campus of the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus.
The HSR is an annual event for upwards of 200 Chicago area African American seniors to interface with representative from top colleges and universities from around the country to explore admissions and scholarship opportunities. This is the fourth year since 2009 that Milwaukee has been granted the opportunity to attend and the third consecutive occasion since 2010 that African American seniors from Madison, Beloit, and Kenosha have been included on this roster.
David joined fifteen other seniors from the greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin school districts who met the minimum 3.3 GPA and 23 cum or above score on the ACT to qualify for invitational selection to the HSR gathering held Friday, October 12, 2012.
During his junior year, the 17-year-old was recognized for his academic achievement, volunteer service, and participation in activities focused towards positively impacting the community. During the last two years, David was recognized by the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Outstanding Young Person’s Award, the PEOPLE Program Certificate of Completion, and induction into the National Society of High School Scholars.
The Outstanding Young Person’s Award recognizes students for their academic achievement, volunteer assistance to others, and participation in community service. David had membership in the PEOPLE Program over a span of three years each at Velma Hamilton Middle School and Madison West High School respectively.
Administered by the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “PEOPLE” is an acronym for Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for learning Excellence. PEOPLE’s mission is to help students successfully make successful transitions from middle school to high school and from high school to college. Approximately 1,300 students currently participate in the program ranging from second grade through undergraduate college level.
Founded in 2002, the National Society of High School Scholars has inducted over 700,000 members with more than 100,000 annually from over 160 countries. Its mission is to recognize academic excellence and to encourage members to apply their unique talents, vision, and potential for the betterment of themselves and the world.
During the multiple years of 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007, David was recognized with the “Links Award” by the Madison Metropolitan Chapter of the Links, Inc. Nominated by teachers and counselors, this award is granted to students in recognition for excellence in community service and academic achievement.
As a committee member of the Black Student Union during his senior year, David took the lead to actually organize the club, assigning and conducting meetings, planning field trips and fundraising activities. He served on the student council during his junior year and was an active member of the “Multico” Program where high school students plan performances for elementary school children designed to impart multicultural understanding and the positive influence of diversity and caring.
His volunteer activities list a car wash and community yard work sponsored by the football team, church maintenance at Madison’s Fountain of Life Church, concession stand duties at Madison West basketball games, lending assistance to incoming high school freshman, working with senior citizens, study hall peer tutoring and tutoring community youth at Mt. Zion Church.
Over a period of many years, he volunteered during International Night at Van Hise Elementary School. Kindergarten through 5th grade students and their parents on International Night showcase food, talent and fashions from different cultures.
“My contribution to the event was the modeling of African clothes. I also assisted during the program helping children getting on and off the stage during their performances and cleaning up after the event,” he says.
An avid sports enthusiast, David played football during his freshman through junior years earning a Letter in Football in 2011. He additionally was a member of the tennis team while a freshman and ran track during his freshman and sophomore years and a club member of the Rugby team while a junior during the 2011 season.
A lover of art, fine drawing, music and poetry, he has also traveled extensively to Africa to visit the birthplace of his mom and dad in Kenya and Guinea-Bissau. Travels have additionally included Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Canada.
But the experience which may serve as a pertinent foundation to his future career is his internship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital. Under the supervision of Dr. Herbert Chen, David from June 2012 through the present is harnessing such skills as collecting and analyzing data, composing tables and spreadsheets, gaining insights into equipment, methods and ethics of surgery; meeting UW surgeons, medical student residents and undergraduates with an interest in the field of medicine. This young possible doctor-to-be even had to opportunity to co-author a paper on “The Efficacy of Thyroidectomy for the Treatment of Goiter.”
“This surgery internship demonstrated the importance of education, coordination and practice,” says David reflecting on his internship at the UW-Madison Hospital. “I now realize just how much I truly love medicine when I completed my first research paper,” he adds.
As a result of his involvement with the pre-college UW-Madison PEOPLE Program, his number one choice of college right now is UW-Madison.
He wants to eventually enter medical school to become an anesthesiologist.
Towards the end of the HSR invitational to Chicago, seniors were asked to share their impression of the event. Although he may be seriously looking at UW-Madison, David revealed that, “One word can sum up this experience in Chicago – ‘Amazing’.
I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from so many great colleges and universities. I now feel much more inspired to make that next step upon graduating from high school and am confident that I am prepared to meet the challenges of achievement expectations both in college and in my chosen career.”