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Howard University > Alternative Spring Break 2011 - Detroit
ASB 2011 in the News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Ron Harris
Director of Communications
Office of University Communications
202.683.0182
rjharrs@howard.edu
www.howard.edu/newsroom

Highland Park Grad Returns to Show Others They Can Do It Too

By Kiara Walker
Howard University News Service

WASHINGTON – Julian Johnson returns to his Detroit neighborhood March 14 a success.

Two years ago, he was a less than promising student at Highland Park Community School going nowhere in
particular. His grades were mediocre and he had no thoughts of college.

But he met a group of Howard University students in his senior year who changed his life.  They were part of the University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program that will be returning to the Detroit area this year to work with more Detroit area residents.
 
“I’m a product of ASB,” said Johnson, now a sophomore at Howard.  “I wouldn’t be going to school if ASB didn’t come.”

Like many of his classmates, Johnson said, higher education wasn’t high on his list.

“Where I’m from there’s not a lot of hope,” he said.

But in March 2009, about 50 ASB students visited his high school, as they will this year, to talk with students about college, life and to work with them on skills.  That ignited something in Johnson.

The people from ASB were genuine, he said. "They really cared.”

So, one day before the deadline, Johnson filled out his application to be admitted to the University. "I did the whole application in one day.” he said.

Working with his counselors and his teachers, Johnson handed the application to ASB participants, who carried it back to the University, and he was ultimately accepted.  Now he is studying economics with plans to work for the U.S. Department of Treasury when he graduates.
 
ASB is a student-run and student-financed service program that annually sends more than 300 Howard students to help residents in troubled communities in cities across America. 

Instead of heading to the beach or one of the nation’s famous spring break party locations, Howard students will be working in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.  This year, they will also help out in Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake that left tens of thousands homeless.

They will tutor elementary and high school students, work on environmental reclamation projects, lobby and demonstrate against gun violence and help rebuild communities.

In Detroit, students will tutor and mentor high school students at Cody, Finney and Highland Park high schools, and at Henry Ford Academy.  The group will also volunteer at the Salvation Army on West Fort Street in Detroit.

 Johnson said he hopes by returning to his high school, he can inspire others the way ASB motivated him.

“I just want to give back to my community any way I can,” Johnson said.  “I have to.  I’m a living, breathing example of what ASB’s mission is.  In Detroit, there aren’t a lot of people who want to help.  Family members don’t even want to help. 

 “I am obligated to people from my school, everybody’s school, to help.”

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