Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
His goal is to be an engineer. He has an inspired vision to develop technology products to be distributed through his own company. Technology, documentary broadcast, basketball, movies and video games tallies his range of interest. His plan in college is to major in either mechanical or electrical engineering with a minor in business.
He is young, gifted and Black. A senior at Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin, Anthony Lamar Smith II views himself truly as “success in the making.”
A very impressive, talented, and goal oriented young man, Anthony was brought to the attention of this series in September of 2012 when his mother, Shawn Green-Smith, contacted this writer through a referral by Ken Malone of Chicago’s 100 Black Men. The request was to include her son in the Honors Student Reception (HSR) trip to Chicago on October 12, 2012.
As noted in previous Young and Gifted features, this HSR is an annual event sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of 100 Black Men to foster the opportunity for high achieving African American seniors to interact with college and university representatives from around the country. The purpose of this gathering is to inspire dialogue exploring admissions and scholarship prospects.
His 4.00 GPA and 23 ACT cum score at Nicolet earned eligibility for Anthony to be included among the sixteen top-of-the line seniors from Milwaukee, Kenosha, Beloit and Madison who would be listed in the 200 HSR student count held at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle UIC Forum.
In association with 100 Black Men of Milwaukee, a grand total of 65 African American seniors from Southwest Wisconsin have attended this exclusive invitational over these past four years from 2009 through 2012. The criteria for selection is a 3.3 minimum G.P.A. and a 23 or above cum score on the ACT.
Anthony shared his enthusiasm of meeting and speaking with recruiters about their schools and engineering programs in particular. “I was really excited about meeting and talking with the dean of the Minority Engineering Programs at the University of Dayton and the representative from Howard University,” he says.
Recalls his mother who was among the nine parent chaperons accompanying their sons and daughters to the HSR event:
“Sporting his black suit, he walked right up to the recruiter, extended his hand and introduced himself. My eyes watered as a sense of pride in self-confidence and capabilities came over me. He was making his case to college recruiters as to why he is a good match for their campus.”
The Nicolet senior says that neither of his four grandparents had the opportunity to attend college, “but they encouraged and supported their children and grandchildren to do so.”
His path towards success in the making has been assisted during his high school career by upstanding area mentoring programs providing exemplary guidance and exposure for our young people to higher education corridors.
From 2009 to August 2011, Anthony participated in the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and University’s (WAICU) College Readiness 21 (CR-21) program which provided resources and opportunities for students working towards successful completion of high school and gaining access to a college education. Due to funding concerns, the CR-21 ceased operation in June of 2011. Eligible students were able to continue with the Gradation Plus and Horizon Programs of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
He says of the CR-21 mentorship which he began during the summer prior to his freshman year in Glendale, that he attended orientation sessions the third week of June and by the second week of July, he was attending classes on the campus of Cardinal Stritch University.
“We were responsible for getting to classes and completing our course work, eating at the assigned time and location and following the rules of the dorm. It was more responsibility than I’d ever had,” he says of this summer college prep experience. During the school year, CR-21 students on the second Saturday of every month visited area college and university campuses:
“We had the opportunity to learn more about college and campus life at a slower pace from staff and students. It made the college environment real for me and gave me confidence that I didn’t have when I started the program.”
Upon the shutting down of the CR-21 college readiness program, Anthony received a call from the Director of the Graduation Plus and Horizon Program to ask if he would be interested in participating. He eagerly accepted.
“These programs were very similar and like CR-21. Graduation Plus and Horizon focused on successfully getting us to and through college. I was accepted in the spring of 2012, and upon completing orientation, by spring break we were on the road to colleges and universities in four states. This, of all my previous experiences, was the most realistic and eye opening,” he shares.
He would add that he was able to see the difference between public and private, small and large, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Ivy League Schools. Following the college tour, “we met the third Wednesday of every month, each time focusing on a different aspect of a successful college career. The session covered high school course selection, study skills, applications and admission, test requirements, areas of study, scholarship programs, financial aid, campus life and much more.”
And after his invitation by Malone concerning the HSR in 2012 October, “I was really looking forward to actually meeting a variety of college representatives face-to-face. I began putting together my portfolio the next day and reflected on what I would say when I met the college recruiters.
Past State Director of College Readiness 21-Milwaukee and current Marquette University Academic Services Coordinator JohnRae Stowers says of Anthony that, “he not only exemplifies the characteristics of an amazing leader in the classroom, but also in school and in the community.” She adds”
“Anthony’s contribution to the program was very valuable. He was a pleasure to have in class. All of the instructors and the mentoring College Coaches raved about his maturity, the way he stayed focus, and of his determination. He brought a lot of perspective to class discussions and welcomed opportunities for continuous growth. His goal has always been to graduate high school and ultimately receive a college degree.”
Alfred E. Parchia, Director of the Graduation Plus Program Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM), says that Anthony “has been a model student since our program came to BGCGM in February of 2012. As a junior in high school, he participated in all the required workshops as well as our 2012 Spring Break College Tour which covered 11 states, 7 colleges/universities, and a variety of additional cultural and social exposure activities. During our one-week tour, Anthony displayed leadership skills among his classmates and assisted our staff in keeping matters orderly and organized.”
He adds that he has worked with talented students both in higher education and pre-college who have eventually earned medical degrees, law degrees and other high level academic and professional standings. “Anthony’s intellect, discipline, and commitment,” says Parchia, “are similar to the best of these students. I believe he is dedicated, driven, and reliable and it is my firm contention that he will do great things in life.”
Richard Kelly, head coach of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Boys Basketball team here in Milwaukee notes that Anthony is “respectful, he uses his brain and he works towards success.” He adds:
“Anthony understands the importance of working as a team and the fact that it requires all members to work together in a spirit of unity.
He is literally a quiet storm on the court, and is a soft spoken and an intense defensive player. After practice, I always know when he has given an awesome effort as he literally glistens with beads of sweat on his forehead that lets you know he gave his all. He displays an awesome defensive effort and is a great outside shot and a very efficient point guard. It has been a real pleasure to have him as part of the team and a joy to see how he has grown from a boy to a man.”
In his advice to African American youth presently attending or preparing to attend high school, he asks that they take schooling as seriously as possible: “Personally, I didn’t buckle down until my junior year at Nicolet. I realized then that in order to get where I wanted to be, it would take more then what I was giving.” He suggests that students should “surround themselves with individuals who have similar goals and interest and select friends who will keep them focused on these goals.”