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From Cameroon to Applying to Medical Schools, Herman Chenwi Credits Programs Like Step UP for His Student Success

herman chenwi

Herman Chenwi is on pins and needles. The Howard Community College (HCC) alumnus and recent University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) graduate has applied to multiple medical schools – Georgetown, George Mason, Morehouse, and his dream school, The John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Now, he must wait.

“I’m kind of on the hot seat right now,” Herman said. “Hopkins is the number one school in the nation, a dream school. I’d be really happy if I got in there.”

Herman is currently working at the National Institutes of Health, but it’s been a long road for Herman to get where he is today. Originally from Cameroon, Herman had entered a lottery organized by the United States government that granted permanent citizenship to select individuals who had their high school diploma and wished to continue their studies in the states. Herman was selected and moved in with family in Howard County. Soon after, he enrolled at HCC.

Herman made the most of his opportunity and took advantage of all the resources provided for students at HCC. One of those resources was the Step UP program. The program pairs students with a faculty or staff coach who provides one-on-one support for managing the challenges of college and life. During weekly meetings, coaches provide encouragement, guidance, and support for their Step UP students.

As it turned out, Herman’s coach was HCC President Kate Hetherington. He said Dr. Hetherington walked him through all obstacles, and when he applied to UMBC, Dr. Hetherington reached out to the school’s president, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III, on Herman’s behalf.

HCC recently reached out to Herman, who explained that he might not be where he is today without HCC’s Step UP program. See what he had to say about Step UP below.

HCC:  Why did you join Step UP while attending HCC?

Herman:  To learn about the school. I needed resources. I had just moved to the United States maybe a couple of weeks before I enrolled in HCC. I was a kid from Cameroon who had a strong accent. People couldn’t understand me, and I couldn’t understand them. I was looking for a resource to help with that.

HCC:  How did the Step UP program help you?

Herman:  I could talk about everything really – academics, or talk about life as a whole.

HCC:  Were you surprised to have HCC President Kate Hetherington as your Step Up coach?

Herman:  I was very surprised. She was great. Everything I told her, every personal struggle I had, she tried to give me a solution for it. And if not, we would talk about it. It was just better to have someone to talk about those things with. Kate is a very special person. Very friendly, very approachable. I had actually walked up and asked her (to be my coach). She had a student at the time, but the next semester, she took me.

HCC:  Dr. Hetherington reached out to UMBC on your behalf. What was that like?

Herman:  I think she did that because she knew I was looking for something local like HCC. I’m happy that she put me in touch with UMBC because things have been looking up ever since.

HCC:  Do you think you would have had the same experience at HCC without services such as Step UP?

Herman:  I don’t think so, seriously. It was an important part of my college experience.

HCC:  Are there any other student support services you took advantage of at HCC?

Herman:  Service Learning, absolutely, and Howard P.R.I.D.E. I also played soccer at HCC my first year. That’s where I learned all about the American culture. I was also part of a lot of clubs and the Student Government Association.

HCC:  What would you tell someone who might be interested in attending HCC?

Herman:  Come to HCC, make as many friends as possible and knock on as many doors as possible. Two years go very fast, and you want to make those memories. I have so many memories of HCC.

HCC:  What was your favorite thing about HCC?

Herman:  The people – students, faculty and staff. Everyone was so friendly. Beautiful campus too. 
Topics: Success Stories
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