If you think that you’ve had to overcome a lot in your life, read one of my favorite books from the 90s, A Hope in The Unseen: An American: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind. Recently, Suskind’s nonfiction book about Cedric Jennings was featured in a segment on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Though this book was published in 1998, Cedric Jennings story is still relevant and moving ten years later. Cedric was an outstanding student in a tough Washington D.C. High School. He had a dream of attending college at MIT, something no one from his high school had ever accomplished before him.
Suskind paints a realistic picture of four years in the life of Cedric and describes all his emotions and fears as he is accepted to a prestigious MIT summer program for talented high school students. As excited as Cedric was for the opportunity to shine at this program, it proved more difficult than he could have imagined. He was not intellectually or emotionally equipped to withstand the rigors and pressures of college life at this Ivy League School and he was eventually turned down by MIT for college admission.
Cedric’s journey was arduous and complicated by lapses in his education not of his own making. He was an exceptionally bright young man who had every right to assume and hope that his intellect would lift him out of his life in the ghetto. But, Cedric was lacking the comprehensive education that competitive students at good high schools around the country are exposed to and expect.
Affirmative action, single parent households, and cultural bias are some of the thought provoking issues discussed in this book. It is impossible not to be moved by Cedric’s perseverance as he steadfastly refused to accept the limitations people imposed on him. He never gave up on his goals, no matter what the odds of achieving them were. This all paid off when he was admitted to Brown University and graduated with an Education degree. He didn’t stop there and then earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan.
Today, Cedric gives back to the community as a clinical social worker and youth minister. The story of his achievements is required reading in many high schools around the country. If you’d like to read an inspiring story of a young talented man who turned possibilities into reality, get acquainted with this inspirational young man. It may make you realize that your glass is not half empty but, half full after all!