Community Violence Major Factor in Teen Engineering Genius’ Decline of $80K Scholarship

Lander Braggs, 17, engineering genius
Lander Braggs, 17, engineering genius

*When considering all of the ways violence can affect a community, we often only see in black and blue. And while physical bruises eventually fade away, its the emotional bruises that continue to linger.

We see this example in communities where the residents have given up hope. They’ve witnessed too much devastation, and not enough preservation.

And now we see a new page turning on the effect of violence in our communities. A page that warrants our attention; because it speaks volumes about the kind of future our children will have.

Case in point: 17-year-old Chicago resident Lander Braggs (pictured) has decided to turn down the offer for a scholarship valued at $80,000 to attend the prestigious Illinois Institute of Technology. True, he is an up and coming technical engineer; with the obvious aptitude to perform well in school, but he doesn’t want to attend school in this particular city.


Because he is afraid that his black life doesn’t matter in the eyes of the police.

Ouch. That hurts.

Braggs, who says he wants to raise awareness about violence against African American men says, “I’m just thinking, like, I don’t want that for me. I want to be able to just go through life and not have to worry about what’s going to happen to me tomorrow.”

That’s understandable son. And knowing what you have witnessed over these past years, you have every right to feel this way.

But it is exactly at times like this that you must also ask yourself: how will I accomplish this goal if I throw away an opportunity that might get me there?

Many are most likely thinking, “where is his family, and why are they allowing him to have the final say on such an important decision?”

Braggs’ mother is in total support of her son.

“If I have to pay something that’s fine. I don’t want to have to look at my watch and say its 3:30, 4:30 I haven’t heard from him and worry everyday if he’s safe,” she states.

No one can blame her for that.

And though Lander is aware that his city is not the only place that violence against him can happen, it doesn’t deter him from the fact that he wants something different from Chicago.

He doesn’t want the same ending that Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and others who died at the hands of police got.

But what he does need right now, in this writer’s humble opinion, is a village.

A village that will come together and talk to him about faith. About hope. About future. About resilience.

A village that will remind him that education is key if you truly want to make change. And in order to get a great education, you must be able to pay for it.

And it would be nice, if paying for that education didn’t place your mother in a lifetime of debt.

Perhaps some of those still paying student loans can be a part of that village.

Yes, son, life is more important than all of these things. However, its what you do with that life that will make all the difference.


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