We are honored to announce the Prepare 4 Tomorrow 2020 Scholarships have been awarded to Darius Ford and Ifunanya Okey-Ilo.
Darius plans to pursue a Journalism degree at Texas Christian University in the fall. Here is his essay:
Being a soldier can make or break anyone. For me, it did both. I protected and cared for my “army” as well as any 10-year old could. I sold candy to give my mom gas money to get us to school. I went to school dirty — we did not have water. I cooked and cleaned for my siblings. “Those loud bangs outside can’t hurt you. Those men sleeping on the street are not all bad; they just made a mistake somewhere. I’m here.” I needed them to survive.
I needed survival from the man who molested me; survival from my mom’s abuser; from homelessness and the streets; yet I never complained. I was just grateful to be alive and even more grateful I could put a ball in my hands. I’m small for a guy. Even smaller for a basketball player, but for 3 years I happily corralled our team; coached our plays; and often led us to victory. Our small 2A-sized varsity team competed against “giants,” schools with 2,000 or more!
My hunger to survive taught me how to cling to every field trip, campus tour, and SAT practice. I learned networking and mentorship. Recently, a successful businessman came to teach entrepreneurship. He recited a poem by Jessie B. Rittenhouse, “Any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid.” I immediately connected with these words because I too asked God for greatness, and he rewarded me with a way out through school. I would never be the soldier I am today without surviving hardships. I used to ask myself “Why me,” but now, I declare: “why not me?” With this, last semester, I competed in Detroit MI, pitched my business model and won $12,000 for the youth in my community to reverse the cycle of poverty. And now, as president of our campus chapter of the national organization My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), I regularly meet with administration and community leaders to mentor and organize campus events.
I will highlight the minority side of Fort Worth but also change it and bring that diversity and change to TCU. A college campus is only as good as the community that surrounds it. So why not bring the black and latino leaders of the Fort Worth area to TCU so they have the resources to really impact the city.I have the vision, perspective and will to change the campus for the better and make and be the trailblazer that has an impact that will shape TCU for geer.
If I could walk the “streets” of TCU, I would find or pave a path to the less fortunate side of Fort Worth. I would involve myself with if not lead mentoring programs and plan community events that would give hurting youth courage to, like me, survive their odds.
Rewind back to 2011 and I’m lying down on my bed when my brother tells me that my mom might have breast cancer. “Breast Cancer? What’s that?” my young mind struggled to grasp what this meant for my mom and our family. I had seen numerous ads on TV discussing the significance of early detection of breast cancer and salespeople merchandising drugs to treat it. This was when I realized that my mom was suffering from an illness. After confronting my mother about this, she explained that she could not undergo chemotherapy because she would have to stop working and would not be able to afford my school tuition. The misery of living in a country that caused her so much torment, along with the cancer metastasizing, made life in Nigeria unbearable for my mother.My mother, Camilla Okey-Ilo, gave birth to me on September 19, 2002, in Lagos, Nigeria. Although my dad was not around when I was born, my mother acted as both a mother and a father; bestowing me with enough love for two parents. She has always been a firm believer in education and instilled in me from an early age, the importance. In 2015, my mother decided to move the family to the United States. She did this to allow my brother and I have access to more educational opportunities and advance our academic career. Unfortunately, my mother passed away on May 11th, 2019. My mother was, and still is, my biggest role model and gave so much of her life to make sure my brother and I received a quality education.If I could, I would travel around to disadvantaged countries and spend time in hospitals; caring for those who are ill. Growing up in a country like Nigeria, I have seen firsthand how developing countries often suffer from a lack of healthcare resources. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer while we were living in Nigeria but was met with inadequate doctors with little experience. By the time we had moved to the United States, she was already in the last stage and cancer had spread. The lack of improvement in my mother’s condition required a lot of assistance from others. I was tasked with helping her with at-home procedures such as draining the water that often pooled in her lungs as a result of the illness.My mother’s circumstance was a major factor that sparked my interest in healthcare and induced me to pursue a career in the medical field. Her encouragement has pushed me to be the absolute best in everything I do, especially in my academics and have shaped me into the dedicated and diligent person I am today. The most important thing to me is to be in a career position where I may be of help and assistance to others. I plan to make my long term goal of providing medical care to those in developing countries a reality by attending college this fall and majoring in Nursing.