Guess what??!! I got some exciting news to share with you guys!!
So a couple of weeks ago I get a call from a “217” phone number, I immediately recognized the number as it is from my hometown of Champaign, IL. Fast forward a few seconds, and I would learn that not only had I been nominated but also selected for one of the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF)-2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards (Centennial High School)! Let me tell you my whole day, week, month was made with that one phone call. I had no idea that I would even be considered for such an honor, growing up in Champaign, IL was not always full of “roses and cherries.” Not everyone was supportive, many said my goals were too high, I was too ambitious, or that I should re-consider my career path. This type of language can be very dangerous, detrimental, and have adverse effects on a young high school student. Thankfully, this would not sway or discourage me. And fortunately, there were many teachers who motivated, pushed my thinking, served as a mentor, and reminded me of my full potential.
According to the CUSF site, The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognizes “graduates whose achievements, strength of character, and citizenship serve as role models to inspire and challenge today’s youth.” Moreover, knowing that I received this award, confirms all the hard work, dedication, and that it was worth taking a different, unique and creative path. I do hope that the work I do inspires not just the youth of Champaign-Urbana, but any young person who wants to be great!! And knowing that I am joining such alums as Olympians Bonnie Blair and Nancy Thies Marshall, Trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, Attorney & Miss America Erika Harold, Film critic and Journalist Roger Ebert among many others, I am truly honored to be a part of an esteemed cadre of leaders.
It will be 22 years this June 1st since graduating from Centennial High School (Class of 1999), and I can still remember walking the halls, sitting in the classrooms, playing on the basketball court.
Ahhhh good ol’ Champaign…Thank you for the memories, you are MAJOR part of who I am today….There is no Dr. Grace D. Gipson, PhD without Champaign or Centennial High School!
For more information on the award and my feature see here!!