Donniqua Represents the Future. I’d Say We’re in Good Hands.
Just a few years ago, some Detroit-area high schools were averaging graduation rates between 40 and 60 percent. Today, the overall graduation rate at these schools has increased dramatically, and the reason for their stunning turnaround can be found in the inspiring stories of students like Donniqua, a recent graduate from the Cody Academy of Public Leadership.
Both of Donniqua’s parents worked several jobs, leaving her older brothers to care for her much of the time. Her brothers taught her to navigate the “mean streets” of Detroit’s less affluent neighborhoods, and for a time Donniqua believed those streets were the only paths open to her. When she came to the Cody Academy of Public Leadership, however, Donniqua started to discover her full potential, and realized that she had the self-confidence, discipline and strength of character to chart her own course.
About The Cody Academy of Public Leadership
The Cody Academy of Public Leadership is one of United Way’s Turn-Around Schools. Cody High used to be a struggling school, but by breaking it into several smaller academies where students attended all their classes with the same group of peers, and teachers were able to spend more time with each individual student, the administration was able to foster a more close-knit and nurturing environment in which students like Donniqua can thrive.
During her time in high school, Donniqua joined the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC). Here she turned out to be a natural born leader, serving as a role model for younger students. She graduated as class valedictorian, the ultimate inspiration for those students who will follow in her footsteps.
The Next Generation
Detroit’s success story is one of many success stories helping to drive up the graduation rate around the country. The average national high school graduation rate in 2012 was 81 percent, the highest in recorded history. Behind that number is a generation of young people who are eager to succeed; all they need is the opportunity.
Research tells us that high school graduates earn $1 million more in income over their lifetime, and are less likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, or become involved in the justice system. What’s more, the children of high school graduates are also more likely to earn their diploma. In other words, this is the kind of change that snowballs, building to a better future for millions of people.
Donniqua is the face of that promising future. Today, she is a hard-working freshman at Michigan State University, where she was awarded a full scholarship. She aspires to become “Detroit’s next hero,” too humble to realize she already is.