By E. B. Allen, TheWEIGH/Neighborhood News Hub
Basam Al-Badani sees himself going far in life, but not straying far from home.
The product of a tight-knit Middle Eastern neighborhood in Hamtramck, his main career goal is to professionally serve those who nurtured him, after he earns a degree in electrical engineering or dentistry – maybe even both.
“I want to stay here,” Al-Badani, 19, says of the Detroit area. “This is where I was born.”
A Macomb County Community College student, he adds that his uncle, a dentist also from Hamtramck, serves as a mentor. Al-Badani is one of 400 youths whose future the Detroit Regional Chamber hopes to impact through its 2015 Detroit Scholarship Fund (DSF) awards, which target youth in the city for college tuition assistance.
In two years since DSF’s establishment, $1 million has been distributed to students who’ve graduated from a Detroit high school, in order to offset any budget shortfalls in Pell college grant funding, according to the Chamber. The Michigan Educational Excellence Foundation finances DSF, supplying various amounts of cash to students like Al-Badani, who pursue associate degrees or technical certificates at Henry Ford, Schoolcraft, Oakland County, Wayne County, or Macomb Community Colleges.
Jim Martinez, communications director for the Detroit Regional Chamber, says students like Al-Badani are prime candidates for the DSF because of their ambition and connections to the city.
“It’s about increasing opportunity and educational attainment,” says Martinez.
Al-Badani was among students and their families attending a recent scholarship announcement ceremony at Detroit’s Max M. Fisher Music Center. Also attending was Greg Handel, the Chamber’s vice president of education and talent, who calls the DSF a safety net for any qualifying student who applies for the Pell Grant, which doesn’t always cover full tuition costs.
DSF ensures that scholars like Al-Badani gain access to, at least, one asset toward realizing their dreams, says Handel: “We guarantee that the students have a tuition-free path to an associate degree.”
Al-Badani says he’ll use his education to guarantee future devotion of his gifts and experience to the local community.
“I’ve had a lot of people who helped me,” he says, “so I want to give back.”
– This blog originally appeared in a new publication, TheWEIGH/Neighborhood News Hub. Detroit Unspun is a partner in that venture.