Mother of Vance White
TEAK Class 16 | Concord Academy ’19 | Brown University ’23
On June 12th, TEAK Fellows, families, staff, and volunteers celebrated Class 16 Fellows’ graduation from High School. Kim White, a TEAK parent, shared her experience on the TEAK journey.
Senior Send Off Speech
Good evening, everyone and thank you for having me. I am the parent of Vance White and here to talk about how much TEAK means to me and my family. TEAK has presented my son and I with lots of opportunities; that he can accomplish whatever he wants. When Vance first presented to me the idea of attending a boarding school, I was against it. Growing up, I heard that boarding school was a place where wealthy parents sent their misbehaved children. As a single mother living in Brooklyn projects, I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen, but I knew in my heart that I couldn’t block his blessings. I was going to sacrifice any and everything I could to make it that happen, and TEAK was there for me every step of the way.
My worries didn’t stop once he entered high school. For the first two years, I never got used to being away from him. I trusted that Concord Academy was going to make my baby as independent as he could possibly be, but the thought of being away from him three months at a time was a hard pill to swallow. However, just as I was getting used to the idea of Vance being away in Massachusetts, he turns around and tells me he wants to spend a year in China with School Year Abroad (SYA). It was unbelievable, but alas, I chose to not block that blessing. I certainly gave him an ear-full of my requests and rules I wanted him to stick by while he was there. Some of these included avoiding street food and calling me at least a few times a week. It was a little shaky at first and I was in shock for the first couple of months as he didn’t follow those rules at all. I cried very often, but nonetheless, TEAK reached out to me and reassured me that I have lots of support. I am so grateful for this huge support system and family.
When Vance came back from China, I made it a mission to see him use his Mandarin in action. In the fall when I needed to go pick up Vance from school, we went to this Chinese restaurant in Concord. Vance offered to order our food in Mandarin. Of course, I said yes, and then there he was: right in front of me speaking it. Tears were starting to flow in my eyes because every worker at the restaurant came over to hear him. They were dumbfounded that this Black kid just appeared and spoke to them in their native tongue. That was my son. I’ve been incredibly proud of him ever since.
TEAK blessed my baby with an internship at the TEAK Summer Institute, the chance to explore Columbia University’s campus and professors, and now the chance to survive the corporate world. Although he wasn’t very happy about spending most of his summers in middle school and before senior year studying, Vance has never felt more indebted to TEAK than ever. With his own merit and TEAK massive network, he was able to attend a prestigious school and go on to attend Brown University this upcoming fall. I want to personally thank Dan, Natalie, Nina, and John Green for all of their help. I want to thank David, his mentor, for always having his back. And I want to thank Sarah Demers and Rachel Josephs, wherever they are for being a part of this journey as well. Of course, none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the Board’s amazing work!
Thank you and have a wonderful evening! Congratulations to you, Class 16.