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Community Callings - How Promise Scholars are Impacting Kalamazoo

Scholars in the Community

When The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) was established, the primary goal of the program was to provide Kalamazoo Public Schools students with funding for their college tuition. As time has gone on, The Promise has expanded to include services that help students stay on track with their classes as well as resources for Promise Scholars who are attending college.

These expansions have helped thousands of students meet their educational goals and prepare for the workforce. The amount of students served is impressive; however, it should also be noted that many Promise Scholars have used this gift to find employment within the greater Kalamazoo area.

Garrett Robinson (top left), Ni’esha Wright (top right), Tinashe Chaponda (bottom left), and Fritz Klug (bottom right) are four, shining examples of how individuals have used The Promise to find careers in Kalamazoo.

Garrett Robinson graduated Kalamazoo Central High School in 2011 and used The Promise to attend Michigan State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Supply Chain Management. Now an Associate Sourcing Manager at Stryker, Robinson works to form relationships with suppliers.

“I work in a sourcing role, procuring goods and services that allow Stryker to help caregivers serve their patients,” Robinson said. “Supplier relationships are one of my main focuses. I make sure Stryker is providing quality parts at a competitive price all while making sure customers get what they need on time.”

In addition to the services he provides in his day-to-day career, Robinson volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and Loaves and Fishes. He describes this work as a win-win due to the satisfaction gained from giving back to the community and helping others at the same time.

Ni’esha Wright also used The Promise to pursue a career where she would be able to aid those around her. After graduating from Loy Norrix High school (Loy Norrix) in 2013, Wright went on to attend Wayne State University to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work, a Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages with a concentration in Spanish, and a minor in Health Psychology.

Currently she works as a Match Support Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters. As a former Little Sister, Wright wants to give Littles the same experience she had as a child.

“The time I spent as a Little Sister was short, but it has helped me focus on making sure that I make lasting relationships,” she said. “My greatest moments are when I see the commitment in the matches that I’ve supported.”

Wright plans to continue her education by pursuing a Master’s Degrees in both Social Work and Public Health.

“I would like to work at a hospital and deliver proper healthcare to those who are underrepresented,” she explained.

Fellow Loy Norrix graduate Fritz Klug was in the inaugural class of Promise Scholars and graduated from Western Michigan University (WMU) with a double major in Latin and History and a minor in Creative Writing.

“I worked at the Western Herald while attending WMU and served as a News Editor my senior year,” he stated. “I never took a journalism class but landed an internship at the Kalamazoo Gazette where I worked until 2015.”

For the past four years, Klug has worked as a Digital Content Specialist for Bell’s Brewery. In this role, he focuses on the brand’s social media marketing, photography, videography, and storytelling.

Much like Klug, Tinashe Chaponda used The Promise to explore his professional creativity after graduating from WMU with a degree in University Studies with a focus in Business Marketing.

“I moved to Atlanta to pursue acting, but I figured out that I did not want to follow that path,” Chaponda said.

Instead, his love for film and business lead to a career in content strategy. He now works as a Content Marketer at Innovative Media Group.

Describing his work as an empowering experience, Chaponda said, “This role has helped me grow and develop my potential, as well as gain confidence on camera.”

As Chaponda and the others moved through their higher education, they came away with advice to pass along to current Promise Scholars.

Robinson stressed the importance of shadowing upperclassmen.

“When you start in college, you’re not jumping right into your career,” he said. “Use the first couple of years to talk to upperclassmen and ask why they like their major and talk to graduates and shadow them.”

For Wright, being comfortable with your decisions and goals is key to future success.

“You can’t change the past, so take advantage of what you have,” she said. “Move forward and be legendary at whatever you do.”

Embracing the freedom, that The Promise provides is what Chaponda felt was most significant.

“You have more freedom than any other college student, so you have to be willing to do other things!” He explained. “Be as curious as you can and try everything.”

Klug agreed about taking full advantage of The Promise.

“I could study Latin and Greek as well as work at the student newspaper without pressure,” he explained. “It gave the freedom to explore without worrying about a return down the road economically.”

Excellent advice, everyone! We are proud of all you have accomplished and cannot wait to see what you do next.

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