“I was not always a good student, but with the help of my counselors and Communities In Schools Philadelphia Freedom Schools Program, I changed my ways, directed my energy in a positive manner, and the opportunities have been endless.”
Roebuck Dredden, a 17-year-old senior at Philadelphia Military Academy (PMA), just returned to Philadelphia after a four-day trip to Daytona Beach, Florida for a National High School Drill Team Competition, where the best drill teams in the nation competed. Even though PMA did not place him in the competition, Roebuck said, “It was an experience of a life time, just like the experience I have receiving a full scholarship to go to Penn State University thanks to Bill Gates Foundation.”
Roebuck said, “I was not always a good student, but with the help of my counselors and Communities In Schools’ Philadelphia Freedom Schools Program, I changed my ways, directed my energy in a positive manner, and the opportunities have been endless.
“When I was at the Hill Freedom Middle School in West Oak Lane, I was not on my best behavior, but my grades were good. But when it was time to go to high school, most of the schools denied me. My counselor, Miss Wallace, told me about Philadelphia Military Academy. I applied, went through a two week training, and was admitted.”
The military school was the change Roebuck needed. “I buckled down with my books and went from C’s to B’s. My behavior improved and I wasn’t getting in trouble.” When he became involved in the Philadelphia Freedom Schools program, he began to have some direction in life.
“It was after my sophomore year in high school I got a summer job with Freedom School Programs and was working in the summer camp. I was actually helping someone else,” Roebuck said. “Students were tutored in math and reading during the academic segment of the camp. In addition, the counselors also had lessons on the importance of getting a college degree, and we learned about our culture, and people who lived before us.
“This was important to me because back in those days, minorities did not have the opportunities we have now, and they were still able to accomplish things. So I knew if they could do it, I could do the same thing – whatever I set out to do.” He continued, “That was the year I went to 11th grade and that was my best year in high school. I made straight A’s.”
Roebuck has a young brother, 6 years old and two sisters, ages 14 and 19, whom he hopes to inspire. “I am determined to do well and to set the foundation for my family. I want to go to college to help my family in hopes to open the doors for my younger family members. I want them to know they can make it. There weren’t a lot of family members that went to college. I hope I can set a pattern for my younger siblings.”
All of Roebuck’s hard work paid off. When he was asked to fill out the application for the Gates Millennium Scholarship he thought, “This application is too long.” Then he was asked again to apply and he decided to give it a chance. “Writing the essays were the hardest, but I got a lot of encouragement and I felt confident about my application,” he explained.
Roebuck is the proud recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, receiving fully-paid tuition for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. Roebuck will be attending Penn State University Main Campus, studying business administration, focusing on accounting and financing. “Math is my favorite subject,” he said. When asked if he would join the drill team, he replied, “If it doesn’t interfere with my studies, because that comes first.”