Noah Branch is a 2017 Cecil E. Newman Scholarship recipient. His scholarship-winning essay appears below.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed to have received a significant amount of tutelage, but in recent years there are two people who stick out in my mind as both mentors and inspirations for me: My father and my brother, Joseph.
Both men have gone through great struggles in their lives; however, both have found their paths to success, as well as helped me to find mine. These two men have had the most significant influence on my life; my father as a principal at a local school, and Joseph as the manager of a restaurant. They both are successful in their fields and have shown me what it means to be content, and how to find meaning in my life.
My father is a man who, growing up, did not have much. He comes from humble beginnings, being raised in the Cabrini-Green Homes in the Near North Side of Chicago. As a father and educator, he motivates me in manners only matched by his other son and my brother Joseph.
My father inspires me to do for my life what he did for his, to take a background of living in a crime-ridden neighborhood and turn that into something positive to help other people.
Constantly, I see him bring his work home with him, however complicated it might be. My father shows me what it means to be truly selfless, as he is always helping children and aiming to better their lives in the long term, both in school and in any other aspects where he sees he can make a positive impact.
My father is partly the reason I have the desire today to dedicate my life to helping others in the medical sciences, potentially as a doctor.
The other reason I have this desire to work for the betterment of others is because of my brother. From a young age, Joseph instilled in me a sense of love for science that I had never felt before. He would bring home his high school chemistry or biology work and I — even as an elementary age student — would dive right in, examining the periodic table and formulas just as he did.
Throughout my high school career, Joseph continued this mentorship in the sciences, and this fostered my love for the natural sciences, and created in me a newfound dream of working in medicine. I knew I could ask Joseph for help with my work whenever I needed it because, despite him being eight years removed from high school himself, I knew Joseph still shared the passion I did for the sciences.
It is the culmination of my brother’s mentorship as an intellectual, my father’s dedication as the magnanimous person he is, and both of their inspiration that has led me to where I am today: a young, Black man with hopes to pursue my passions as a science-lover, and promote the wellbeing of others in this world as a doctor.
These two men have influenced me greatly, and have pushed me to further my education and to stretch my boundaries. They want to see me be successful, and through their projections of faith in me, I now feel that I will be able to achieve as much as they believe I can.
For a recap/photos from the 2017 Graduation Celebration, go here.