February 1, 2022
Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)

Celebrating Black History 

In February, 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and other educators and historians committed to celebrating the achievements of African Americans (which was largely unwritten in American textbooks) through the creation of Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, as black college students expanded their knowledge of the links between Africa, America, and the African Diaspora, Negro History Week became Negro History Month and eventually, Black History Month. Despite much of this cultural revolution occurring in my hometown of Chicago, as a student in Chicago Public Schools, my textbooks were largely void of African achievements pre-slavery or African-American achievements during and post-slavery. Click hereto learn more about the origins of Black History Month.

Since its publication in 1998, my book, “The Eagles who Thought They were Chickens,” has served as a source of inspiration in schools, pulpits, and play houses. I wrote the story, chronically the journey of 3 eagle eggs from their native Africa, through the African Diaspora, and onto the unfamiliar shores of America, to inspire young people to embrace their identities and spread their wings. The 3-book set (book, teacher’s guide, and student activity book) has been adopted by the Children’s Defense Fund as part of their Freedom Schools curriculum. For over 20 years, as an educator, researcher, author, and trainer, I have trained teachers in fostering positive and supportive classrooms and principals in fostering a positive and supportive school climate and culture where all students are inspired to spread their wings and pursue their dreams.

Now, some 24 years after the publication of The Eagles who Thought They were Chickens (one of my 28 published books),I am still encouraging students to spread their wings and pursue their dreams of college and careers. During February and March, cohort students are being guided through their college research, which includes Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Many of our cohort students have not only found safe and supportive spaces at these historically rich institutions of higher learning, landed full scholarships, and been exposed to internship opportunities at many Fortune 500 companies, but have engaged in learning about who they are and the shoulders upon whom they stand. 

Mid-year Assessments 

We have had great mid-year assessment meetings with students and parents and will continue holding one-on-one meetings throughout this month. We have enjoyed providing our recommendations in such areas as course taking, leadership, summer programs, and community service. Through these conversations, we have shared our insight into changes in college admissions, such as test optional becoming the new normal. In December, Harvard announced the continuation of its current test optional policy through 2030 and affirms what is becoming the new normal in college admissions—Holistic Admission.

“Consistent with Harvard’s whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are one factor among many considered. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years – including extracurricular activities, community involvement, employment, and family responsibilities – are considered as part of the admissions process.”

Flippin The Story


Jayla, a high school junior in our Florence School District 3 Cohort and Media Coordinator for our youth leadership board, is intentional in her efforts to have a community impact. She has launched Flippin The Story, a blog devoted to sharing book reviews, creative writing, and articles. She is also coordinating the efforts of our youth leadership board to develop a College Planning Cohort blog, through which college students may contribute articles about their campuses and high school students may contribute articles profiling their activities, summer programs, and community service. Eventually, we envision that the blog and monthly newsletter will be totally student-led, with student-driven content.

Damian — Northeastern University

While our curriculum has always been culturally diverse through the examples of students from diverse backgrounds who have been offered admission to selective colleges and competitive scholarships, we have further updated our curriculum to ensure that it is as inspiring as it is informative. Our February Module is filled with students attending the type of institutions profiled (i.e., liberal arts college, research universities, honors programs, etc.). Damian, a student from our Florence School District 3 Cohort, is one of the students profiled. Damian joined our program as a rising high school sophomore at Lake City High School in Lake City, South Carolina. Damian, from a family of 10, is the first in his family to attend college immediately after graduating from high school. He was intentional in how he approached the cohort work and clear-eyed in his affirming, “Mr. Wynn, I will go to college anywhere that I can receive a full scholarship so that I am not a burden on my mother.”

Damian pursued leadership and service in his local community, high school, the ROTC program, and through his clubs and activities with focus and passion. His efforts were rewarded with being presented with the Lake City, South Carolina Key to the City, a $25,000 SallieMae Bridging the Dream Scholarship, and full scholarship offers from Bates College, George Washington University, and Northeastern University. The Northeastern University Torch Scholars Program is not a scholarship for which students can apply. Students must be nominated by their school counselor or a community-based organization. In this regard, with the support of the late Ms. Yvonne Scott, the former Director of College and Career Readiness for Florence School District 3, we nominated Damian for the Torch Scholars Program. Damian was one of two cohort students selected from a national pool of nominees, as a Northeastern University Torch Scholar. The full scholarship has allowed Damian to defer his $25,000 SallieMae Bridging the Dream Scholarship until he attends law school. Northeastern, my alma mater, has the premiere cooperative education program in the world. Since entering Northeastern, Damian has studied abroad twice (Africa and Europe) and has had a co-op assignment in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

Damian will appear, together with our college interns, at our February 12, 2022, cohort meeting and share their experiences at liberal arts colleges, research universities, cooperative education programs, HBCUs, and honors programs.

High School Seniors

As seniors continue to receive admission offers and financial aid award letters, we encourage students and parents to schedule 1-on-1 sessions to review financial aid awards prior to finalizing enrollment decisions. There are many factors to be considered, such as how much student loan debt students and parents are assuming, which institutional scholarships and grants are one-time versus renewable, and what the renewability criteria is for scholarships. Any senior may schedule a 1-on-1 meeting following our monthly meetings. 

5th Grade Families (Thursday, February 3, 2022)

At this time next year, current Pinellas County Schools 5th grade students will be middle school students. Consequently, the Pinellas County Schools Title I Office is hosting the second of a 3-part series of presentations providing rising 6th grade students and parents with information regarding middle school choice, making a successful middle school transition, and how developing a 7-year middle school through high school college-bound plan can impact college choice and full scholarship opportunities.

Click here to register for the second session in the series on February 3, 2022, at 6:00 pm, and to hear:

  • A panel of amazing Pinellas County Schools middle school principals representing Bay Point Middle School, Largo Middle School, and Osceola Middle School.
  • A panel of current and former middle school students with tips for a great middle school experience.
  • Stories and see examples of how the gifts and talents revealed during the middle school years can profoundly shape a student’s college-bound trajectory and full scholarship opportunities.

Click here to download a flyer or Click here to register…

Fly-In Programs

As our high school juniors begin to research Fly-in and Diversity Weekend programs, we are beginning to be contacted by our college partners:

Greetings from Swarthmore College! We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well in this unusual and challenging school year. 

We are one of the nation’s top liberal arts and engineering colleges and would love to partner with you in promoting college access and affordability. We are reaching out to share that we are now accepting nominations for our all-expenses-paid fly-in program Discover Swarthmore, which could be an exciting opportunity for your students. Discover Swarthmore was designed to level the playing field for students who may not be able to visit our campus in person without financial assistance, or have other obstacles on their path to college. Nominations are due June 15, 2022.

Not only will these provide all-expenses paid opportunities to get a glimpse of college life, you will also gain valuable information about college admissions and financial aid from experts. Fly-in programs are also a helpful way to see if a specific college is the right fit for you.

Facebook Postings…

We post important content regularly to our College Planning Cohort Facebook Page. Please ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ our page so that you stay up to date on the latest in college planning news.

Mark Your Calendar

Monthly Meeting Schedule:The second Saturday of each month.
February 3, 2022 — 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm — Florence School District 3 Cohort Session: Presentation for Lake City High School Alumni Scholarship Representatives. All Lake City High School and J Paul Truluck High School students are invited to attend. Click here to register; Meeting ID 868 3691 5004. 

February 3, 2022 — 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm — Pinellas County Schools Title I Meeting for Rising 6th Grade Parents and Students (click here to register: Meeting ID: 851 1117 0834). Part II or a 3-part College Planning Series (click herefor more information).

February 12, 2022 – 10:00 am – Noon: Monthly Cohort Session for participating students in graders 9th – 11th (click here to register; Meeting ID: 884 7893 8939). Following a panel discussion of current college students, students will present their February presentations in their Discussion Groups. Note: The session is only opened to registered students and parents. Email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com to request a Guest Pass.

Florence School District 3 Writing Sessions – 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm — Any Grade (click here to register; Meeting ID 892 5369 6183) Monday and Wednesday.

Florence School District 3 Cohort Sessions – 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm — 9th – 12th Grades (click here to register; Meeting ID 868 3691 5004) Tuesday and Thursday. Note: Representatives from the Lake City High School Alumni Scholarship will speak at the Thursday, February 3rd meeting.

Summer Boot Camps…

Registration is now opened for our summer college planning boot camps for middle school and high school students. Each boot camp will guide students in developing college-bound plans that are consistent with students’ educational/career aspirations. Students will expand their college knowledge and explore how their personality, interests, gifts and talents, and potential to pursue exceptionality can be used to guide their college and scholarship pathways. Students will complete online units each day, engage in small group discussions with a college mentor, and emerge from the boot camp with a school-year action plan consistent with their college/career aspirations.

Jocelyne, a 9th grader in the St. Petersburg High School IB Program, recounts her boot camp experiences:

“I cannot express how much I encourage every middle school student to attend the boot camp. Each year since the summer prior to entering the 6th grade, I have attended the College Planning Boot Camp. It surprises me just how much I have actually learned from the program and how much the alumni and mentors have done for me. I joined the cohort itself once I was in 8th grade along with a group of outstanding students around my age that I began working with. Now, as a high school freshman, I’m still an active student of the cohort and I serve as the President of the Youth Leadership Board. This program has impacted my life far more than I expected and I’m glad that I found it that one fateful night in the Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School newsletter!

I am also proud to be part of youth leadership board to produce an introductory video of the program and to say that through a collaboration with other students, we have had a meaningful community impact for a program that has done so much for us. Click here to check out the video…

Monday – Thursday; June 6 – 9, 2022: (Grades 6 – 8) from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm daily. At this time, planned sessions are all virtual. Click here to register for the Middle School Boot Camp…

Monday – Thursday; June 13 – 16, 2022: (Grades 9 – 12) from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm daily. At this time, planned sessions are all virtual. Click here to register for the High School Boot Camp…

Each student who attends each day and completes the assigned work will receive a certificate of achievement and a set of books and materials to continue their college planning throughout middle school and high school.

Summer Essay Writing Sessions…

Registration will open soon for our summer writing sessions for rising high school seniors. The sessions will provide guidance in selecting a Common Application topic; writing college essays and personal statements; and responding to writing prompts. During this time of holistic admissions, college essays are more important than ever. Email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com to reserve your space.

Want to Join a Cohort?

ASA Guide Right Black Male Mentoring Program: Contact Doug Lucas: dlucasjr@aol.com

Pinellas County Schools (FL): Contact Dr. Lewis Brinson, Minority Achievement Officer: brinsonle@pcsb.org

Florence School District 3 (SC): Contact Ms. Kendra Wilson, High School Guidance Counselor: kwilson@fsd3.org

What to join our National Cohort? Click here to learn more…