The Chicago Tribune ran a feature Sunday online about Timeica Bethel ’11 and her journey from the LeClaire Courts housing project to Yale.
The article describes how Bethel was raised by her grandmother after her mother, a crack addict, left Bethel and her three siblings at her grandmother’s house and did not return.
Bethel’s grandmother, Mary Lewis, kept her grandchildren safe from the project’s drug deals and fights by having them read books inside:
Books about the Gold Rush, which prompted, in Bethel, dreams of moving to California and striking it rich. Books about oil workers, which sent Bethel — her grandmother standing sentry — into their backyard to dig for oil.
Bethel’s reading lead to straight A’s in elementary school, and she soon earned a full scholarship to the elite Parker School in Lincoln Park. The transition was rough at first — Lincoln Park and LeClaire Courts were polar opposites economically — however, Bethel soon adjusted.
Her 3.9 GPA at Parker earned her acceptances to Yale, Harvard, Duke, DePauw, and Pomona. Clearly, in our humble opinion, Bethel ’11 made the right choice from there.
After graduation, Bethel hopes to help other students bootstrap themselves from poverty to elite universities. She has accepted a job through Teach for America to work at the LEARN charter school in North Lawndale.
“I want to be that one person who says, ‘I believe in you,’” Bethel told the Tribune.