By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Hip-hop artist and motivational speaker Dee-1 brought his “Knowledge For College Tour” to Henry W. Grady High School on Wednesday, when he shared useful information with seniors about the importance of planning for college. Held in partnership with Sallie Mae and inspired by Dee-1’s “Sallie Mae Back,” the multi-city college tour is designed to encourage students to achieve the dream of a higher education.
A Louisiana State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Dee-1 taught middle school math in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for two years before repaying his student loans and pursuing his musical dream and signing with RCA Records. With “Sallie Mae Back,” Dee-1 spread his message of financial responsibility while encouraging students to attend and graduate college. In doing so, he addressed the importance of attending and paying for college and why a college degree is important.
“I loved what I was doing as a teacher, but I had a passion and purpose to become a rapper,” said Dee-1, who used his contract money to pay his student loans back. “I also wanted being a teacher to be part of my story. I knew people could relate, and I know the difference college can make.”
In addition to performing his infectious hit song, “Sallie Mae Back” and answering students’ questions about college, Dee-1 gave away three $100 iTunes gift cards, as well as a $5,000 Sallie Mae scholarship, which was awarded to Grady senior Ilayah Hill.
During his visit, Dee-1 encouraged students to seek scholarships, grants and loans as a free means to pay for college. Admonishing students to only apply for loans that they can afford to repay, Dee-1 told them the benefits of being a college graduate include increasing earning potential, gaining relevant information and opportunities to explore various career paths, and having access to influential people and mentors.
“This will assist with helping prepare our students for college and career,” Grady counselor Shaketha Blankenship said. “This will motivate them to consider post-secondary options.”