July 28, 2015 | by Devon Fredrick


Reach Higher

Devon along with two other Umoja students were invited by Michelle Obama to attend the Beating the Odds Summit at the White House on July 23, 2015. Students participated in workshops and panels sharing their personal stories and challenges they faced along their postsecondary journey. Hear from Devon:

1. How did you get involved with Umoja? 

My first real experience with Umoja was last year. I met Ms. Tossmann (Umoja's Social Emotional Learning Director) when she walked into my English class. She talked about an upcoming college tour trip funded by Umoja and asked if anyone was interested. Of course, I was sold before she finished talking about it.

2. Share something you learned at the White House.

Something that stuck with me was that it's ok to fail. Character is built from failure. Of course that was not the first time I heard it, but it was the first time it spoke to me. I think going into college everyone thinks they're suppose to be all-knowing and never trip up but that's wrong. I learned that you are going to fail again and again and that's alright because that's the only way you'll learn.

3. What was your favorite part about the whole experience?

My favorite part was the student panel. It was great listening to their stories and experiences during their first year of college. Each of them were truly inspiring and encouraging. I loved how comfortable the conversation was. None of them were shy or afraid to say how they felt.

4. In what ways did you benefit from attending the Beating the Odds Summit?

Being there at the Summit just gave me hope for my future. I was able to make some great connections with people who can help me out with my college plans. I also was able to meet some really great students and build some good relationships pretty quickly.

5. Why do you think it’s important for students to have the opportunity to attend summits like Beating the Odds?

It's important to attend this program because it is encouraging. For a lot of people, success is just being able to pay your bills and put food on your table. That's not a bad thing, but given the chance to experience something like this will show you that it's not a waste or a pipe dream to aim higher. This program shows you that anyone can be someone with hard work.

6. Describe this experience in one sentence.

The Beating the Odds Summit will change the way you view success and your ability to achieve it!