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Proviso West Grad Makes History

June 6, 2014 02:40 PM
When he graduated from Proviso West High School in 2009 with plans to play football in college, Kwamane Liddell did not think that he would one day make history.

Last month, he did just that, becoming the first African-American male to graduate from the College of Nursing at Southern Illinois University (SIU).

"It was a lot of studying and a lot of work," Kwamane said.

While at Proviso West, Kwamane played football and was a member of the wrestling team. He earned a football scholarship to McKendree University in downstate Lebanon, Illinois, where he was a biology major.

However, it was a job at Loyola University Medical Center that convinced him to change his mind and change his major to nursing on the spot.

"I was able to see what doctors and nurses do," Kwamane said. "I found that I was more interested in direct patient care like the nurses."

After transferring to SIU on an academic scholarship, he got to work right away, joining and becoming president of the Black Male Roundtable, which works to address the large attrition rate among African-American males at SIU. When he saw that the College of Nursing did not have a spot in the SIU student government, he petitioned to be the college’s representative and was named to the position.

While he maintained a 3.6 grade point average in college, Kwamane said that he did have to make other adjustments. While his general education classes tended to be diverse, most of his classmates in his nursing classes tended to be white females.

"At first, it was intimidating and very different," he said. "Over time, once we got to know each other, it got better. I was able to learn about them while they learned about me."

Now a college graduate, Kwamane said that he wants to do more to help others. He said that he is preparing to go to law school since he has an interest in health care law. He also tries to return to Proviso West and speak to the football team. He said that high school students need to focus on the task at hand and take every opportunity to learn.

"Don’t be afraid to do well," Kwamane said. "Don’t be afraid to work hard and succeed. Strive to be what you want to be."

Mr. Oscar Hawthorne, principal at Proviso West, said that Kwamane is an example of a student who has taken his education from high school and continued to expand it in college, with a desire to learn more.

"It is always great to hear of our graduates doing well after high school, and I congratulate Kwamane on doing well and wanting to motivate others to do well," Mr. Hawthorne said. "He is a great role model for students and I wish him continued success."


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