Rico Howard, graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa 2009
Mt. Carmel High School 2005
When writing a personal statement for his college applications Rico remembers referencing a painting in which a man reaches over a wall, extending a helping hand to a wounded person on the other side. In high school Rico said the sense of social consciousness that motivated his college essay was lost amidst the “rah rah” sports environment that placed athletics, and little else, on a pedestal. Rico knew he needed a college quite different than the high school he attended, and with the help of Chicago Scholars he found Grinnell College. The school, which he said was “ more socially aware,” seemed to be a “good match.”
It turned out that Grinnell was more than a good match. Beyond valuing his commitment to social causes, Rico said Chicago Scholars had helped him find a place where he could finally pursue his dreams. The sociology major had never taken music lessons prior to heading off for school, but had always wanted to. By the end of his four years he was the lead pianist in both Grinnell’s Latin American and Jazz ensemble and had his own band on campus. To broaden his perspective Rico has decided to take advantage of study abroad programs available at Grinnell and spent a semester in London. While in London, Rico had a chance to travel around and visited Greece during the recess.
Music continues to be a passion of Rico’s, but he plans on taking his post-college life in a different direction. The aspiring urban planner faces an economic landscape that can surely seem overwhelming, but he is confident that Chicago Scholars has prepared him. “As far as being informed and preparing students for the process of finding a job, Chicago Scholars hits the nail on the head,” he commented.
Rico recognizes the benefits he can continue to accrue through remaining a part of the Chicago Scholars network. And, it is the lasting imagery of Gilbert Young's painting entitled “He Ain’t Heavy,” that has served as inspiration for Rico’s continued involvement with Chicago Scholars. His primary motivation to sustain his contributions stems from his knowledge of how helpful it is to have guidance during college years often plagued by uncertainty and his understanding of the importance of giving back.
In remaining connected to the organization, Rico adds his name to a growing list of people who have done well and are wiling to provide guidance to future classes of scholars. As the number of Chicago Scholar alums continues to grow, assuredly there will continue to be plenty of helping hands reaching over the wall.