Eric Osaro attends South Shore International College Prep on Chicago’s Southside, and like many high school seniors, is fighting off senioritis and preparing for college. However, Eric has been quite busy the past four years; his academic excellence has earned him a series of acceptance letters from top-tier Midwestern universities. Not to mention generous scholarships and grants – including a little help from Zakat Foundation of America (ZF).
As ZF expands social programs for Chicago’s marginalized communities, one of the cornerstone projects of the organization is focused on providing resources for young underprivileged students to excel in the classroom. Previous programs include annual backpack giveaways, supporting STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) facilities, and scholarship opportunities for Chicago Public School (CPS) students.
Ms. Rashida Muhammad, a Programs Coordinator at ZF, presented a $2,000 check from ZF to Eric at a Hyde Park fashion show charity event. Eric was selected not only because of his award-winning essay submission, but also recognized for his role in after-school clubs, sports, and his school’s medical program.
Osaro hails from a traditional Nigerian-American family where education is stressed in the culture. “It’s held high because education is what gets you somewhere in life,” says Eric. He plans to pursue a career in medicine, a decision sparked by interning at children’s hospitals and working closely with his uncle, a practicing nurse.
“We always want to align our future leaders of tomorrow around various causes and organizations that embody the spirit of our vision and what we foresee our students,” says Mr. Stanley Coleman, a Program Manager at South Shore International College Prep.
Coleman adds students from the South Shore community, where a family’s median salary is just $17,000, are automatically at a financial disadvantage to pursue a career in higher learning.
“We always persevere and utilize our resiliency, which is embodied and implemented by our professors and passed on to our students,” says Coleman. “Our professors, staff, and counselors have done a pretty good job as our students are still driven towards college, and not letting any obstacle stand in his or her way.”
Coleman is equally impressed by ZF’s vision of giving back, which presents an important lesson for his students. “What you have done, not just on the Southside of Chicago and throughout the country, but on a global scale – that has been phenomenal.”
“You have to make the best of what you got,” says Eric. “You should take what you have and make it great, and in doing so, expose other students to something better that comes after you.”