As Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago member DuWayne walked into the White House, he just kept reminding himself, he belonged. He belonged in that room and was confident to give a speech in front of the President of the United States Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I’ve heard so many times, ‘Wow, you really weren’t nervous.’ I always had that mindset the moment I walked into the White House, to have the confidence you belong in that room,” DuWayne said. “I just had to have that mindset that I belonged there with these people, even having all these cameras in front of my face.”

DuWayne presented a speech during a February Black History Month event at the White House. He spoke about Black history, his community work in Chicago at food pantries and clothing drives, and Emmett Till, which was why he was even there in the first place.

After an unexpected circumstance prevented DuWayne from attending a screening of the film “Till” that several classmates were invited to at the White House weeks earlier, DuWayne submitted his resume and transcript for consideration to speak at the Black History Month event in Washington, D.C.

DuWayne, a senior in high school, is an active member of BGCC’s Great Opportunities Program, which provides workforce development services to teens. Because of the Great Opportunities program, he collaborated with Chicago Youth Service Corp and the JP Morgan Chase program.

While in the JP Morgan Chase program, he competed against other teams to create a realistic scenario to fix Chicago’s communities. His group focused on creating more mental health facilities in more communities throughout the city and won the competition.

This work led to DuWayne’s next honor: JP Morgan Chase’s Youth Service Award. He will be awarded at an event in Indianapolis next month.

DuWayne will graduate in June 2023 and hopes to attend a Historical Black College or University (HBCU), hopefully, Howard University, where he plans to major in journalism.

“Before (BGCC’s) GO Program, I wasn’t really thinking one individual could make a change, especially in Chicago,” DuWayne said. “But being part of this program, anyone can have the power and voice to do whatever they want. To make the change they want for their community, their city.”

Photos courtesy of Kamala Harris' Twitter page

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