Dunbar Vocational Career Academy


The following piece was written by a recent graduate of Chicago Public School’s Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, Eshe Harvey, exclusively for this blog:

I have recently graduated from Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, last year in the month of June, and words can’t explain how excited I was to finally leave. My journey at Dunbar began in September 2008. I wanted to join the Dunbar community because of its Medical Academy. The medical academy wasn’t the problem, it was all of the other obstacles me and many other students like me had to face. You see, I wasn’t into being the “popular kid.” I came to school for one reason and one reason only: to receive an education. Majority of the students there, not all, were obnoxious, ignorant, and rude. I am an individual that doesn’t condone violent activities and I didn’t partake in any fights, didn’t even want to be around when a fight was taking place. Freshman year was horrible! I couldn’t believe out of all of the schools I had been accepted too, I chose Dunbar.

But I do believe that you’re school doesn’t make you; you could go to the best of school and still not be fully prepared for the real world, it’s up to you. You are the captain of your ship, you call the shots. Many people may have many bad things to say about Dunbar, including me, but I didn’t, along with many other students like myself, allow the negative to overpower the positive. My main goal was to go to a great university and not have to pay anything; I just want to reach my goal of becoming a Pediatric Oncologist. I knew I had to remain at the top of my class and do well on the ACT.

The average ACT score at Dunbar was a 14.1; I achieved a 21 my first time around

I knew that this wasn’t the best, but I was proud of myself, especially coming from a school where I didn’t learn a lot, I basically taught myself throughout my four years at Dunbar. Also with my outstanding academics, leadership, volunteer, and writing skills, I was able to receive a very prestigious scholarship, the Gates Millennium scholarship that is good for up to 10 years at any university in the country. There were 42,000 students from all over the world who applied to this scholarship in 2012 and out of that 42,000, they only chose 1,000 students who they believed can make a difference in the world, and I was one of those students.

Chicago public schools may not be the best of the best and there still are a lot of things that I feel need to be corrected within these schools. Things such as:

  • Better lunches
  • More after school programs
  • Armed security
  • Better teachers
  • Longer class hours

I feel as if all of these things will play a huge role in making CPS a better learning environment where students can come to school and learn, while being safe and feeling safe. Students shouldn’t have to feel as if they are in harm’s way while trying to better their lives.

What do you think of what Eshe had to say? Is student motivation or teacher/facility quality a more important factor in student success? Are the areas she cites as in need of improvement a potentially significant factor as well? Although you can’t base a whole educational philosophy off of one student’s testimony, it gives us a great place to start, and continue: ask the students.


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