Meet some of the amazing students of The Phoenix Pact!
There are hundreds of RBL Scholars who have earned college degrees or are still working toward one.
We've invited a few to talk about their experiences and share any words of advice.
Click on the photos below to see what each has to say.
Where "Good morning!" Really Means "Good Morning!" – Finding a Home
"Well, I feel like I've actually found a home. It's not a problem for me, being around different people. I'm easy. I have friends that aren't the same as me. I have one friend on the track team. I have other friends who are into sports and different stuff. I'm not. But when we hang out, it's cool. They're different, but they're accepting. When you're walking on campus, everybody's like, "Oh, good morning." Really. "Good morning." That's not something I was used to in Chicago—we'd just walk past. They're so nice here."
Paying It Forward – Never Growing out of Your Dream
"Five years from now, hopefully I'll be teaching at an elementary school. My dad's a truck driver and my mom works at McCormick Place. I just always wanted to be a teacher. When I told my parents I was coming to school for teaching, my dad said it was like a childhood dream and that I would grow out of it. But I haven't. I haven't yet."
Support is Everywhere and Sometimes includes Donuts
"The office hours for our professors are phenomenal. Anytime that the office hours are not what you can fit in, you can email them to set up something different. I had a professor last semester come in on a Saturday to talk to me. I was beyond grateful. He said, "I'm not doing anything on Saturday morning. If you're not either, I could come bring us donuts. We could sit down and talk about the paper." I said, "Thank you so much, Mr. Becker. I'm sorry to ruin your Saturday." And he said, "Not a problem." I don't understand how someone could say they're struggling because there are so many resources."
College Is Your Job! Juggling is Not Allowed!
First semester I was working 20 hours a week at Target. I wasn't sleeping much. I thought I could juggle it, but it was too much. I love the job, and the money, but they were giving me night shifts, and I couldn't do that. It's not healthy. I wasn't feeling good at all. But I'm loving this semester and all of my classes. I feel like I've adapted to everything now."
Right On Time Blessings - The Phoenix Pact:
"I just feel so blessed, and I just feel so grateful for everything that I have, and how far I've gotten right now."
From Struggle to Family – Finding Spartan Love
"It was definitely a struggle for me. I had to use so many of the campus resources; from the MLC (Math Learning Center) to the Writing Center. But now I am loving my Spartan family here at Michigan State. Wherever you choose to continue your education, you'll love it too."
DON’T GIVE UP!
"There are going to be long, sleepless nights. And days where you feel like the entire world is on your back and you will want to give up. DON'T! There are many of us who have been where you are now, people who believe in you and others willing to help you out in numerous ways. Including me!"
Do the things today that will make the future you proud to introduce yourself."
"I am a graduate of NLCP, and then Denison University. I am working a full-time job at a Fortune 500 company. I am an entrepreneur, activist, artist, brother, son… father. The only thing I can think of is the 15-year-old me would be proud of where I am today."
The Future You – Get What’s Yours
"If you want something, no matter what it is, get it. Don't ever doubt yourself. Never say the expectations placed upon you are too high. Get what's yours and never let someone tell you that you don't deserve it.
My Second Home
Grand Valley is a great school and I knew it would be since I first stepped on campus. The teachers and the staff strive extremely hard to make it just like a second home. They all are willing to work with me after class or during their office hours if I'm not sure about a topic that we've recently talked about. I feel like that's extremely important because it shows that the teachers really do care about the students."
"You should just go to random things. The Black Student Organization (BSO) is one place that saved my life and showed me how to be a leader. And the only reason I showed up to BSO events is because the president lived on the first floor of my building. I showed up to a meeting and before I knew it, I was sitting on the executive board.
The Phoenix Pact – Not Just a Number
"The Phoenix Pact helped me get away from home. Without it…I'd probably be at [a school in Chicago]. I would have just been a number because of how big that school is."
On the Road to a PhD
"After college I plan to earn a Masters in Accounting and want to work in corporate America for a few years. Then go back for my PhD to be a professor."
Back to Back to Back…,
"These are the most changes I've ever made in my life. It's been changes back to back, back to back, back to back. It's just something I'm trying to adapt to."
The World is So Different
"I'm meeting a lot of different types of people from all over the world. They talk about how they've never been in a place like Chicago. The world is so different. So different. It's just a really good experience to meet all these people. I'm enjoying it."
On The Phoenix Pact:
"If it weren't for The Phoenix Pact, I would not be here. Sometimes, I sit and think about how grateful I am. Man, this is really a blessing. Everybody doesn't get this opportunity."
Time and Patience – The Key to Achieving in College
Things definitely turned out to be different than I expected. I thought that achieving in college would be just as easy as high school. But I learned that in college it is harder to maintain a good GPA. But with time and patience, I figured out a way to continue achieving like I did at NLCP.
The Phoenix Pact – Reminding Me Why I Am Here
The Phoenix Pact helped me a great deal! Thanks to the Phoenix Pact I am completely stress free while away at Illinois College. The Phoenix Pact has given me lots of motivation and reminds me why I am in college and I am here to work hard. This past semester I was on the Dean’s List.
Hungry for a Career
In a couple of years I hope to be in a culinary career, preparing to become a chef.I have always dreamed of being a chef and imagine myself running my own catering business or restaurant. And I am getting some experience in this area at Illinois College
Nothing Worth Doing Is Easy
Nothing is easy and starting something new is especially difficult. So just handling change was hard. Beyond that, the biggest struggles were making myself be more social to reach out to people and to study every chance I got.
EVERYONE is Friendly at Elmhurst College
Everyone is so friendly. So much so, in fact, that I did a presentation on the culture in Elmhurst where everyone says "hello" and holds doors open for each other in contrast to Chicago.
A key person for me was one of the Assistant Coaches – the defensive line coach. He helped me the most by reaching out to me and offering good advice that I follow. First thing that sticks in my mind is him telling me that nothing is easy and to study all the time. He was talking about it not just to football but also to life. For football I started off struggling with the playbook. But then I just started studying and knew it wouldn’t be easy and I got the hang of it. Same with my classes.
Open Your Door and Your Mind
Do your work. Go to class. You have to work hard to pass. There is nothing easy about college classes. Take good notes. Then review your notes. Read your syllabus. Know all the details and responsibilities. And every time you have free time, study! Don’t waste time because you need to study.
And in terms of meeting people and becoming part of the college - don’t sit in your room. People want to meet you as much as you want to meet people. So I have learned to be more open to people. Literally keeping my door open and my mind open too.
Succeeding for My Sibs
Every time I go home my younger siblings are so proud of me and want to follow in my footsteps. I want them to see me as a role model and follow me so they can be successful.
Choosing the Positive Route
It was hard. On some days I just wanted to go home. And I wasn’t alone. I think pretty much every college student feels that way at some point. But I would just remind myself I am here for a reason and I would get to class or wherever I needed to be.
Also, adjusting to freedom and being responsible was harder than I thought it would be. But once you build good habits, you can keep them up. So I made my own choices and I quickly chose that I wanted to be on a positive route and just tried to be consistent and keep that in mind whenever I had a decision to make.
Think Successful to Be Successful
It is so important to surround yourself with positivity at all times. Be positive even when the situation doesn’t seem possible to be positive. You decide. And my friends were a great support. They are also positive and have similar goals.
Remember why you are in college and make the right decisions to support that goal. Think successful to be successful. By that I mean I really struggled in two classes. So I signed up and got tutoring for one class and worked with a friend in the other class. And when you get stressed or just lazy and your body or mind tell you to stay in bed or skip class, force yourself to make the right decision. Go to class, do your homework, skip being social and do your job of keeping up with your classwork. You have to motivate yourself to get where you want to be.
I Like Everything about Grand Valley State University:
I really recommend it. GVSU has a lot to offer. And the resources are great. If you are motivated to succeed you will. It is just like NLCP with great people and programs available to you. Just take advantage of them and you’ll be fine. The choice is up to you.
My Home Away From Home
College is a challenge and my expectations were that it would be hard so I brought that mentality with me. I was able to get used to college pretty quickly. I won’t say easy, that is for sure. It just hit me fast that I’m not in high school anymore. No one is making me get up and go to class. No parent telling me what to do. It was time for me to do what I have to do for myself. I decided I was ready and handled it. And now Tougaloo feels like home to me now.
Everyone at Tougaloo has what I would say is Southern hospitality. So friendly and respectful. It is a given that you will be treated with respect and that you will treat others with respect. Everyone speaks with each other, stranger and friend alike. People care about you and want to get to know you so that you won’t be a stranger next time you see them.
I am much friendlier now. I wasn’t nearly as social and wouldn’t reach out to people I didn’t know. Now I am just following the way things work here and like it very much.
Also at Tougaloo we have a Success Coach who is our advisor and teaches one of our classes. My Success Coach is awesome. A key person who tells you what you need to know and not just what you want to know. He’s not your friend. He’s your advisor. He will not sugarcoat anything and reminds you that you have a purpose in life and at college and to do what you need to do to meet that purpose.
You Are In College for a Reason
Prepare for college. That is the purpose of NLCP. Take advantage of NLCP programs and Senior Project.
Be responsible. No one else will be taking care of you. So start practicing it in high school.
Do your work. Go to class. Get your books at the start of the semester. Do the simple things and you’ll be fine.
Pick your college wisely. For me a small college is the only way to go. I love being at a college where everyone knows me, cares for me and wants me and everyone else on campus to be successful.
In the end you are in college for a reason. Follow through and do what you are supposed to do to achieve your goals.
College – A Major Step Towards Being An Adult
Being on your own is hard and cool at the same time. You need to be social or you are alone. I’m quiet by nature but had to try a bit more. But really people here are so welcoming they would engage me easily.
So then the challenge was that no one was on your case all the time to do everything. So you had to pay attention to everything and be responsible. I feel like this transition is a major step in becoming an adult and I will be taking more steps in the years ahead.
I love Michigan State. It is a busy environment full of people. It is bright and lively. People are really engaging. It is what I wanted. I wanted to be around all types of people. I wanted to be around the activities of a major university. I love meeting all types of people, learning about their cultures and hearing different perspectives.
My major is theatre and I find that people work so well together here. Everyone is respectful. It’s an assumption. The way it is supposed to be and it’s beautiful. It helped me feel at home and good about my work.
Your Number One Job
Study A Lot. It is your number one job. Get used to it. I have to study much harder than high school. Studying has to be your primary objective while in college. Push yourself.
Branch out to meet new people. If you just stick around people like you then you will miss out and be limiting yourself and you’ll probably think your college is boring.
College – Your Insurance for Success
College is Opportunities. And I think of college as a form of insurance. A college degree will be my insurance to help me be successful. It’s a must for many opportunities and careers. Also college is fun and you have to take advantage of the opportunity it presents.
Also I am the first in my family at a major university and I want to make them proud and create a new pathway for others in my family that will follow
College is Learning How to Get Things Done
I wanted to be at Trinity Christian. It is small, the people are nice and when I’m on campus I feel like it is a place of opportunity for my future. Everyone is friendly and also helpful. People want to make sure you are doing well and if you need anything, they are there for you.
But the main thing is that you have deadlines and the difference from high school when you say I’ll "try" to meet it. In college you can’t try to find a way to do it. You HAVE to do it.
I feel like this transition is a part of life. It is about becoming an adult. No one is looking over your shoulder when you make all types of decisions from when you wake up, if you go to class, if you study, how you spend your money, everything.
In a way it’s you testing yourself and learning about yourself. You have to figure out how you are going to handle these challenges. How do you get things done? And if something doesn’t work, you have to work to fix it.
The Best Practice for College
Stick to Senior Project. It is the best practice for college. Do whatever you can to gain knowledge at NLCP, because you’ll need it when it comes to college. College is hard. Be ready and start working hard at NLCP to get yourself ready.
Achieving Your Dreams Is More Than Just Working a Job
I had a lot of jobs in high school and I would see people who weren’t happy in them. And that was all they had and could expect for the future. I want to have a college degree so I have more opportunities and hopefully have a job I like and can achieve my dreams rather than just working a job because I have to.
And I think of my Mom when I talked to her about one of my classes was really hard and I wanted to drop it. She said "What are you going to do if you quit?"
School is all you know. So why not do 4 more years and have this great outcome.
My Mom is rooting for me and everyone in my family is too. So that is motivation.
UIC – A Welcoming Place
Yes – especially Brittney Beck in the First-Year program. She was great. I talked with her regularly and she made me feel welcome and that the struggles I was handling were normal for everyone. And she helped guide me through them too.
Overall the campus does a good job making everyone feel comfortable. I like UIC because it has all types of people and there are plenty of people like me too. Also I had an African American Studies class that made me feel comfortable.
What I Will Do With My College Degree
I want to be able to do well for the people who support me. I want to support them in the future. And I want to help my community too. I think I can do that best with a college degree. So I have to stick it out in college to best help others and myself.
The Take Back
Published her first book, The Take Back a collection of poems and a call to action for millennials to pause and think about how they can be intentional about life.
Don’t Hold Back Your Gifts
Do not wait on sharing your gifts with the world. Someone’s gift is not coming to fruition because you’re holding your gift back.
College Changed My Life
I would not be the woman I am today without it, and as mundane as that sounds...it is exactly type of clear sentiment that I feel compelled to share. Your footprint will have deeper grooves now, when you walk in a room… you’ll own the space with a mind that is well rounded and layered. Your intellectual curiosities will encourage you to venture into parts of your mind and the world that you may never had imagined. You just have to remember these few things. BE open, Listen, Do your research, advocate for yourself and celebrate all of the wins… big and small because on the road less traveled you’ll need to self encourage and motivate! You’re intelligent, you’re talented and amazing ...and I affirm you Phoenix soar and don’t look down.
College - A High Stakes Investment
My advice is to remember that this is a journey of exponential growth, and growth cannot happen in isolation or by making the same choices and expecting a different result. Be kind to yourself. Steer clear of major distractions that offer immediate "fun." Utilize and appreciate your support systems, ask questions when you’re unsure, be proactive, advocate for yourself, and prioritize your studies. Always remember that this is an investment so the stakes are high and you will only get out what you have decided to contribute wholeheartedly.
Advice for Success at NLCP
College was almost exactly what I expected it to be. NLCP provided me numerous opportunities to become better acquainted with the college lifestyle and academic climate through Phoenix Rising. I was prepared. Take advantage of the opportunities NLCP offers. However, I was not prepared for the random setbacks and obstacles, but I was prepared with a shield of resiliency. Your success in graduating high school and graduating college are not disconnected. Take the same determination, hunger and passion and channel it once more.
Giving Back – The Trajectory of my Life
Since graduating, I’ve had many accomplishments but my greatest to date is what I am doing right now. I teach Drama at NLCP full time. I love my students, I love theater and I love that I get to serve students who look like me and are college bound. I can now say that I have given back to a place that changed the trajectory of my life and it feels amazing
College Is What You Make of It
Feeling nervous about transitioning to college may be inevitable however, I would advise all seniors not to let their nerves turn into fear. College is what you make it. And I believe every senior should go after their dream school. I would advise students to be certain that the school in which he/she chooses to attend is a perfect match. Students should not be afraid to leave home! Go as far as possible and embrace new cultures.
Finding Your True Potential
College is extremely important. Not only does college provide students with a degree with the qualifications and knowledge needed to be hired. But, college will also challenge and broaden one’s horizon in ways to help you figure out your true potential.
Nothing Less Than Excellence
I have always been a motivated student but being a RBL scholarship recipient inspired me to push even harder throughout my college career.. There was no way I was going to receive help financially from someone and present anything less than excellence.
Lastly, I was very appreciative and honored to be a RBL recipient because it took a burden off my shoulders every semester. And I believe all college students would agree every little bit of support helps.
Both NLCP and UIC impacted my life dramatically by opening many doors in many directions, while teaching me that if you take the time to put in the work and effort, the results will surely come.
Also at both NLCP and UIC each helped me become an independent individual who when necessary would learn to look to those around for support in a time of need.
A Proud Fraternity
A college accomplishment that I am very proud of is becoming a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
The Core of NLCP – Being the Best You Can Be
Without a doubt the core NLCP programs of Phoenix Rising, Senior Project, AP classes, and college trips all had a huge impact on my journey to college any my success at Mizzou.
I appreciate that the NLCP faculty and staff held me to a high standard because they saw something in me that I did not see in myself. They pushed me to be the best that I could be. The teachers were great and the advising staff was wonderful. I would have to say attending NLCP was one of the best decisions of my life.
• Proud Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
• National Pan-Hellenic Council Treasurer
• Vocal Community Activist
Growing Up Whether You Want to or Not
The transition to college is to make sure to come into college with an open mindset. Please, do not be afraid to try things. College is a time where you are going to be around people that are different from you and that is okay. Also, get involved with activities and clubs or whatever suits your interest. Getting involved and having fun makes your college experience more memorable and enjoyable.
College was not at all what I expected. I thought coming into college that it was going to be similar to high school and it is not. One of the effects of college is it makes one grow up whether you want to or not. There is no one to wake you up for classes and make sure that you eat lunch. Everything is on you and that can be pretty scary for some people but just make sure you have a planner and everything should be okay.
The Phoenix Pact – Helping Me Believe in Me
I love Illinois College. If it weren’t for the Phoenix Pact I wouldn’t be here. Beyond the resources your belief in me has helped me maintain my belief in myself. Exams are hard, food isn’t as good as I’d like but with the support of Phoenix Pact I am learning to make the best of it.
Remember Your Purpose
Practice effective time management. As a freshman, college can feel like sensory overload. You will be constantly meeting new people and learning new and interesting things, but you must remember what your purpose in being on campus is. You are there to receive the best quality education that you can. Take advantage of every learning opportunity and try not to allow yourself to be distracted by the social scene too much -- though it is a necessary and enjoyable part of college that you should experience and cherish.
College Challenges You and Makes Anything Possible
College was definitely NOT what I expected. I thought that high school was as hard as it would get. It was not until my senior year, when I started interviewing with colleges and applying that I realized that college was going to be a major challenge for me. I am extremely proud of myself for crossing that hurdle. It has been a major stepping stone for me, and though it was difficult, I would not change my experience. I truly believe that I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to because I was able to overcome the challenges of college which at many points seemed insurmountable.
My Accomplishments (so far!)
I now have three degrees from Dartmouth College and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College
- B.A. Engineering Sciences, Minor in Government (2012),
- B.E. Mechanical Engineering (2013), and
- Master of Engineering Management (2015), in conjunction with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
I now work for Eaton Corporation as a participant in Eaton's Engineering & Technology Leadership Development Program
Keep Your Goals in Mind!!!
I cannot emphasize this enough. Pursuing your degree will not be easy. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious but nothing worth having comes easily. Stay focused, persevere because you have the whole world in your hands and your entire life before you.
One of the biggest mistakes that I've made is to compare my journey to someone else's. I've definitely learned to recognize my own intellect and to continue to learn from every experience.
My Current Accomplishments
Two things that I'm currently proud of would be my nearly perfect LSAT score and my position as a paralegal for the civil rights law firm of Loevy & Loevy.
Recent Stand-Out Moment:
Mardia received a micro-grant from NLCP's Alumni Social Capital program to attend and present at the Annual Conference of the Association of Black Sociologists in Memphis, TN in the fall.
She wrote a paper titled "Rewriting the Narrative: The Black Experience in Rural New England" for the conference and presented her work and experience in a panel.
A Hug to Start the Day
I have the utmost respect for NLCP. That school did so much for me. When we came to NLCP, we naturally greeted each other with a hug. Of course there were times during the year when we could not stand each other, but at the end of the day we respected, loved and cared for each other.
Prepared for Success
The poverty rate in my community is over 45%. NLCP knew what we had to face. Coming from a community where there is so much negativity, we needed an extra push. NLCP ingrained in our skulls that there is a way out of this negativity. We went to college prepared for success. We knew how to make it.
Two things that I'm currently proud of would be my nearly perfect LSAT score and my position as a paralegal for the civil rights law firm Loevy&Loevy.
College is a great experience
I really like North Central. I have friends for all types of backgrounds and find it really interesting. My roommate and I just clicked and it is great to have a new friend who you can be comfortable with and helps you reach out to others too. Also, the Premiere Program (a pre-orientation program) – was so helpful. It was a great experience with activities that helped us meet people and set good habits for when the regular school year started.
Be Open Minded and Focused
I didn’t have culture shock because I welcomed getting to know other people from all types of backgrounds and still remained myself. You have to be yourself. Be confident in who you are and it is easy to reach out to others. Get involved in as many activities as you can so you can meet more people, learn new perspectives and find your community.
Stay focus. Have fun BUT NOT TOO MUCH! You can’t go to parties every night if you want to stay in college.
If you are close to home, don’t go home too much. You have to make a new home and your new college.
Why College is Important to Me
For my Mom- she didn’t finish college because she got pregnant with me. She has dreams for me and I want to make them come true. For my niece – she has had some struggles and I want to be successful so that she can see me as a role model and follow my lead.