Nonprofit in Montgomery County Helps Students Become College Ready (VIDEO)
Being college ready is the only option for members of the I AM College READY, a nonprofit organization with an educational program that mentors minority males with chapters in Gaithersburg High School and Einstein High School in Kensington.
I AM College READY, formerly known as B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S, was founded in 1984 by Morris Hudson of Gaithersburg.
“Every single student that has participated in the program has graduated from high school and over sixty percent of the young men who come through the program has move on to college,” Hudson said.
When students become members of I AM College READY, they receive support for career development, college admissions, and college tours. But they also have responsibilities such as tutoring other children, volunteering at soup kitchens or other community events, and learn valuable life lessons.
Morris is a former Marine. Back in 1984, Morris visited Einstein High School during career day to talk to students about what he did in the Marines; the principal then approached him and asked if he could talk to a few students who were struggling in school.
“I met with them on the weekends,” said Hudson.
Today, according to Hudson, the program has more than 300 students and each student will accumulate- by the time they graduate high school- at least 500 hours of community service.
“The past four years I’ve been in the program [it] really has changed my life. It gave me some perspective into how exactly I became to be who I am,” said Rodrigo Vargas, sophomore at Montgomery College Rockville Campus.
Vargas is currently majoring in Life Science and has big plans for his future.
“Hopefully, one day, I will become a doctor,” Vargas said.
Hudson said the program is based on the Hudson Peer Mentoring Model where graduate students mentor the undergraduate students, who then come to high school to mentor high school and middle school students. These students then go to elementary schools to mentor the young ones as well.
“I never had anybody to serve as a role model,” Hudson said adding that he was thankful that he “at least” had his uncles trying “their best” to raise him well.
Hudson said the program is not currently funded, and sometimes he takes money out of his own pockets to pay for transportation or food. That’s why Hudson started the “Need Dollars for Scholars” campaign on Givefoward.com to help with some of these needs.
To some students, I AM College READY was the path to improve grades and high school success.
“I was struggling a bit in high school and so one of my friends who was a member at the time recommended me to join,” said Hakeem Mowlana, Gaithersburg High School student.
Mowlana is today the vice-president of the group and recognizes the difference that has made in his life.
“Since I’ve been a member, I’ve seen tremendous growth not only in myself but the group as a whole,” Mowlana said.