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Lee High School Evac students present at Harvard

Presentation called 'Why is it so hard to get from the Hood to Harvard'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A few Jacksonville high school students received the opportunity of a lifetime.

Students from Lee High School's Evac Movement were selected to serve on Harvard's Youth Advisory Board, which is a board of people deciding who gets into the Ivy League school. The students teamed up with advisers at the university to talk about ways at-risk students can get into prestigious programs.

Vincente Waugh, Nicholas Burgess, and Brandon Griggs were selected to participate in a documentary and podcast for Harvard titled "Why is it so hard to get from the Hood to Harvard, and how do we fix it?"

A seat at the table is all these high school students wanted, and that's exactly what they got when offered the opportunity to serve on Harvard's Youth Advisory Board.

"These Ivy League schools are looking for diversity in their schools, and they want more diversity in their schools, but they don't really know the steps. Meeting us was a step of us finding out what we need to do as students and minorities, and what they need to do to work with us, in a sense," said Waugh. 

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

Evac (Cave spelled backward) is a program for students to turn personal tragedy into positive change. There are at least 15 African-American men in the group. They've been nationally recognized for their work in the community.

"I think it shows that we are capable of going to these elite Ivy League schools that are usually for the rich kids. We can do it, too," Griggs said. 

Despite recognition for what they do, members say going to Harvard was one of the best adventures as they are able to show students who look like them that the Ivy League is attainable.

"We want to set a trend where there's a college-going culture in communities like ours, where students don't normally go to schools like these," Griggs said. 

"No matter certain circumstances, keep pushing and it's going to get greater later," Burgess said.

The students' Harvard research will be shared with National Public Radio.