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Joseph Kemp’s Educational Journey at the 2019 Urban Upbound Gala


College was not always an obvious choice for Joseph Kemp. Speaking as our College Access Honoree at Urban Upbound’s 15th Anniversary Gala, Joseph shared his educational journey starting when he joined Urban Upbound’s College Access Program in 2012.

As a resident of Queensbridge Houses and an Urban Upbound College Access alumnus, Joseph Kemp is the epitome of success that we want to achieve for our #BeTheFirst Campaign. He is a first-generation American and a first-generation high school graduate who graduated cum laude in 2017 from CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice with an honors degree in philosophy.

Joseph is currently a J.D. candidate at the University of Michigan Law School, where he is a Dean’s Scholar, Co-chair of the Black Law Students Association, President of the Space Law Society, and an Associate Editor of the Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review. His passion for poverty alleviation helped him win the Alden J. “Butch” Carpenter Memorial Scholarship, the largest scholarship available for current Michigan Law students.

At the Gala on October 22, 2019 he shared a story about a session he had with the then College Access Program Manager — now our Managing Director — Bethany Goldszer. It was a pivotal moment in Joseph’s life, as they discussed whether or not college was an option for him, established college graduation as a goal, and then co-created a strategy to achieve that goal. He pointed out that the College Access Program assisted him with selecting colleges, filling out college applications, and going through the financial aid application procedure. He emphasized the importance of the help and encouragement that he received from the team at Urban Upbound: “Without [Urban Upbound’s help] I probably would not have gone to college.”

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