Check Your Spam Folder! It May Contain a Scholarship
An errant series of emails turned into a happy surprise for a Truman Middle College (TMC) student intent on realizing a dream career as a video game designer.
Herbert Mennis was disappointed that all the pieces hadn’t fallen into place for him to complete his course work and graduate from TMC this past June, and not hearing a positive response from the One Million Degrees Project to a scholarship application he had submitted only added to the discouragement he was feeling. After three semesters of hard and successful work at Truman, Herbert was, for the first time since returning to school, losing focus.
But when an administrator from One Million Degrees – a program that empowers low-income, highly motivated community college students to succeed in school, in work, and in life – contacted Herbert by phone to inquire why they hadn’t gotten a response from him regarding their offer of a scholarship, it came to light that all of the emails announcing the award had inexplicably gone to Herbert’s spam folder.
Suddenly Herbert saw his future brighten and his plans return to the course he had set for himself.
Always an inquisitive and inquiring student, Herbert had stopped attending Hyde Park Academy as a result of difficulties in his life. Without a place to live and dissatisfied with school, it was through the recommendations of a friend that he found his way to Truman Middle College.
“I had heard good things about the teachers here, that they were a cut above the rest,” he said. “They were right. The teachers here won’t let you give up. They really push you to succeed.”
For the past year Herbert has been a resident of Mercy Home – a residential, aftercare, referral and community-based mentoring program – while he continued his studies at Truman and taking advantage of the College’s dual enrollment program to complete college credit classes in English, mathematics and criminal justice. Active in the Student Leadership program, Herbert was part of a contingent that attended the Middle College National Consortium’s Student Leadership Initiative Con-ference in Washington, D.C. this past year – an experience he found exciting and invaluable.
To meet the graduation requirements of Truman Middle College, Herbert needed to complete two scholarship applications. With the encouragement of his Mercy Home counselor, he submitted an application to the One Million Degrees program with high hopes. But as time passed and he heard nothing in response, discouragement set in.
He wasn’t the only one relieved when the email mix up was discovered and the good news of the scholarship finally arrived.
Kristin Greer, Assistant Principal of Truman Middle College, said, “I think getting the news of the One Million Degrees scholarship pushed Herbert to complete everything he needed to do to graduate this summer. It pushed him to finish and to finish strong. He has really grown in his time here, and he’s always been a gracious and grateful individual. I’m not surprised he received this scholarship.”
When not working his part-time job at the Navy Pier Häagen-Dazs ice cream store, Herbert enjoys time spent with friends, reading, and, of course, playing video games. Though leaving his options open, Herbert is fairly certain he will be returning to Truman College in the fall to utilize the One Million Degrees scholarship in his pursuit of an Associate’s degree.
One advantage to continuing on at Truman, he says, is that it will allow him to regularly check in with the faculty and staff of the middle college who have been so instrumental in helping keep him stay focused and successful and who have meant so much to him.