(CBS) — It can be a tough road from Chicago’s public housing to college, but it’s doable. On Wednesday, some 100 college-bound students who live in CHA got a heck of a send-off.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports the Chicago youth have at least two things in common: growing up in Chicago Public housing and now heading to college.
OJ Purnell grew up in Cabrini Green.
“A lot of killing, a lot of drugs, a lot of people not finishing high school, let alone going to college.” said OJ Purnell. “I just knew that wasn’t the life for me.”
Purnell says it was challenging, but he graduated high school, and with help from CHA and other scholarships, he is headed to Millikin University this fall.
He and about 100 other students who call the CHA home, loaded up bags of goodies for their dorm rooms at the CHA Take Flight send-off Wednesday sponsored by CNA insurance.
“I’ve seen my family struggling like the struggles they had to face and not going to college and the struggle for money and I knew that I didn’t want to live that life,” said Dominique Coker.
Her twin sister Danielle felt the very same way, but knew what she did want the minute she visited Vanderbilt University.
“When I got down there I just loved it, I loved the city loved the campus and I just knew it was for me,” she said.
Now both girls are heading to college. Dominique to U of I, and Danielle to Vanderbilt.
“It’s just nice to know that there is so many youth — so many public housing youth, out there doing good things, are on the right path and the right road and there is positive stories in public housing,” said Kristin Cramer
The students are headed to Notre Dame, Morehouse, University of Wisconsin and many others. The CHA CEO, Michael Merchant, says they deserve encouragement and support.