By Lynn Jacobs
For African American males like Daniel Ogbonna, acceptance to college represents the first step toward an eminent future. Daniel is a senior at Wallenberg High School in San Francisco and has already received acceptance letters from two Bay area schools. He is awaiting a response from his top choice, Duke University, to which he applied on the recommendation of SF Achievers founder and Duke alumnus, Dr. Henry Safrit. Over the past four years, Dr. Safrit has followed Daniel’s progress, watching him grow from an immature youth into a young man regarded as a dedicated student, respected leader and positive role model. In fact, Dr. Safrit believes that Daniel is the single strongest candidate to come through the Achievers program in its six-year history, and the first that he has recommended to Duke.
Daniel is the youngest of six children. His parents, Nigerian immigrants, hold low-paying jobs, but have instilled in Daniel and his siblings a desire to improve their lot in life through education, engagement and perseverance. Daniel maintains a rigorous academic schedule, participates in the Debate Club, competes on the basketball team, and plays piano in the school band. One of his Debate Club topics sparked his interest in sociology and criminal justice, subjects he’s now planning to pursue in college. “I want to understand why criminals do the things they do, why they do bad things,” he says. When asked about his careers aspirations, Daniel says, “I’d like to be involved in law enforcement – maybe even the FBI.”
It’s impossible to measure the full impact of SF Achievers on Daniel’s growth and development, but he readily acknowledges the wide range of opportunities and guidance the program’s afforded him. “They’ve helped me with summer jobs, financial aid and scholarship applications, calendar set-up and time management,” he says. Whether he remains in California for college, or heads off to Duke, Daniel will go with a firm foundation and the support of his family and friends at SF Achievers.