Cedric Jennings 10 years later

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!

11 comments on “Cedric Jennings 10 years later

  1. Thank you for the 10-year update of Cedric Jennings. I’m reading Hope for the Unseen now and couldn’t bear not knowing if Cedric still continues to be a successful man. This makes me happy.
    I wonder about his mother, Barbara Jennings is doing. I hope well.
    Margaret Deason

  2. Hope for the Unseen was such a powerful story. It really made me think about the inequities in our public education system. I agree that it is such a blessing that Cedric was able to overcome his childhood and bring his story and hope to others.

  3. You are so correct. I apologize for that error. However, it surely is ‘up there’ in selectivity and prestige. Thanks for the comment.

  4. I was also an inner city kid out of SE Washington, DC., and the odds were against me as well. I could not bear the thought of attending Ballou Sr. High, but instead I graduated from Eastern High. It is amazing to hear Cedricks story. It is almost like reliving my past.. A great Book. The same beliefs, strategies and faith principles Cedric applied also assisted me in achieving my goals and aspirations.

    To GOD Be The Glory,

  5. I just finished the book, “Hope in the Unseen.” I was happy that Cedric is doing well, and that he apparently has returned to his faith. I was also wondering how his mother was doing?

  6. Why does everyone assume that his difficulties were because of lack of preparation by his highschool? Majoring in math at a prestigious school requires a high floor of IQ. It is likely that he didn’t have it. Hard work can’t overcome that. His hard work did get him other degrees, none of which have a high floor for IQ. Schools are not shown to have much effect. The rich districts have kids enter kindergarten with high scores, and graduate from high school with equally high scores. The schools don’t move the dial.

    Of course, everyone would rather blame the school. Assuming what you are trying to prove.

  7. AVI is properly named as the village idiot, if he believes that the quality of one’s schools growing up doesn’t affect academic progress.

  8. Also, AVI apparently is unaware that Jennings minored in applied mathematics, so clearly his “IQ” (you’ve gotta love the IQ fetishists) was able to handle math at Brown just fine.

  9. Just read A Hope In The Unseen. Yes extremely motivational and moving. Hard understanding the reasons why his Mother had such difficulty financially. To some degree, yes, but it appears she had a fairly good job. Guess that matters not. Cedric had much to overcome and for sure his ability to persevere was astounding!!! Is he married, have children? Thanks for this heartfelt reading!

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