Kyle Evans-Jennings: Standing on the shoulders of giants

Kyle Evans JenningsKyle Evans-Jennings, is an Uplift Hampton graduate who applied to 43 different universities throughout the United States and, to-date, was accepted to more than half.  In May, Kyle announced his intention to go to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia along with the announcements of 388 other Uplift seniors at College Signing Day.

Kyle had been flown out to various college campuses thanks to free fly-in trips through the Road to College Program but he was still waiting for the right college.  During his trip to Morehouse, he knew that was the place for him.

“As soon as I set foot on the campus of Morehouse, I knew inside of me, that I belonged at Morehouse,” Kyle said.

While he was seemingly undecided on which college to choose, Kyle credits Uplift Hampton Secondary Director Erin Barksdale with helping him make the decision.

“One day Ms. Barksdale walked up to me and told me I was a Morehouse man.  I knew about the tradition of the school and that it was a historically black college where Martin Luther King had gone to school, but I didn’t know that I would be a fit,” Kyle said.

Ms. Barksdale attended the all-female neighbor of Morehouse, Spelman College, and was very familiar with the atmosphere at Morehouse.  She knew right away that Kyle’s affability and good nature were traits that would help him adjust quickly.

“When I met Kyle I knew he had to be a Morehouse man.  The qualities he had, and his ability to network and be a go-getter would help him fit in,” Ms. Barksdale said.

Kyle grew up with his mother in San Antonio until his mother met and married Kyle’s stepfather who lived in Dallas.  It wasn’t until Kyle had a stepfather that he realized how important a father figure was to him.

“Having him there every day opened my eyes to what he was teaching me and how I valued his guidance,” Kyle said.

In 2008, Kyle’s baby sister was born and suddenly Kyle had an entirely new family dynamic.

“It was something I had never experienced.  I had a father and a little sister in a couple of years, and my life was great,” Kyle said.

Shortly after his sister’s birth Kyle’s foundation was shaken as his stepfather unexpectedly died of pneumonia.  Having a father figure for two years, only to lose him unexpectedly shapes his decisions today, including his decision on where to go for college.  He has been a leader in his household and he wanted to be at a college that would help him develop his leadership skills and provide a stable foundation.

“I will miss my sister and my mom, but I know inside of me that I need to be at Morehouse and I’m strong enough to do it,” Kyle said.

Kyle’s mother Cassaundra Grant agrees.

“You can’t even imagine the joy I have for Kyle.  I’m proud of him, and  thankful that Morehouse will help him be a man.  This will be good opportunity for him to grow and get wisdom and knowledge,” she said.

Kyle has been through some difficult times but he credits Uplift Hampton and Uplift Education with giving him every opportunity to succeed.

“When I transferred from Kimball High School to Uplift Hampton I didn’t realize how much difference a school could make.  I know I wouldn’t be in the position I am now to get scholarships to go to great schools.  I can honestly say that Uplift Education has changed my life.”

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