Atlanta, GA – Friday, December 14, 2018 – On Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 7:00 P.M., thousands of students from around the world tuned in to the Early Action announcement of Harvard College. According to the Harvard Crimson, the renowned institution invited 935 of 6,958 early applicants to join its Class of 2023, marking a 13.4 percent acceptance rate — and what is likely the most competitive early admissions cycle in Harvard history. Among those selected was Osazi Al-Khaliq, a senior at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School in Atlanta, GA.
“I’m honestly at a loss for words,” Osazi states. “It is because of the sense of purpose and validation that the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project has instilled within me that positioned me to be admitted into the Harvard College Class of 2023. Being accepted into Harvard is a testament to how much the Diversity Project has cultivated within me a sense of academic excellence, cultural pride, and community leadership.”
Executive Director Brandon Fleming set out to establish a program that would provide under- resourced Black youth exposure to academic training that would make them more competitive in pursuit of Ivy League and top-tiered universities. In 2017, the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) was established as an Atlanta-based pipeline program to recruit, train, and feedstudents of color into a prestigious summer residency at Harvard College. “Too often, Black youth,no matter how gifted and motivated, do not benefit from the same enrichment opportunities as others who can typically afford them,” states Dani Ayers, President of HDCDP. “In regard to college matriculation, educational inequity places them at a distinct disadvantage when matched up against students who have attended elite preparatory and private schools. This is why we decided to start this pipeline.”
Last summer, HDCDP sent 25 Atlanta youth to Harvard’s summer residency for high school students, where they studied alongside over 400 gifted young scholars from around the world. The residency concluded with a single-elimination debate tournament, which the Atlanta group dominated and reigned champions. News of the Atlanta pipeline’s historic victory instantly brokenational headlines.
“To the outside world, the HDCDP was a pipeline program that trained students around Metro Atlanta to debate, be leaders, and enjoy a residency at Harvard. But joining its inaugural class encompassed so much more than that – it was symbolic of the hope that no dream of mine wasfarfetched,” Osazi remarks. “I know of no other program in existence that gives students and their community the amount of purpose, resolve, and belonging that the Diversity Project gives. By joining this program, I have learned to be a thought-leader who is civically-engaged and prepared to make an indelible impact on the world.”
In Fall 2019, Osazi will attend Harvard College on a full scholarship.
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