Emanuel began at Christopher House as a five year old enrolled in our Uptown early childhood program. Having recently immigrated to the US from Nigeria with his parents and five siblings, Christopher House helped get him on track to thrive in elementary school. As Emanuel grew, he continued onto Christopher House’s After-School, beginning with our School Age program for K-6 students, where he received academic support and enrichment opportunities that helped him grow. In seventh grade, he began attending Youth Leadership – our college and career preparatory program for middle and high school students. He quickly formed strong bonds with the Youth Leadership staff. Whenever he was struggling, he sought their guidance. Reflecting back on his experience, he says that our staff members “just kept encouraging” him.

In fact, longtime staff member Juan Ascencio became Emanuel’s confirmation sponsor. He credits Juan with keeping him focused while in our program, saying Juan taught him how important it was to take advantage of every opportunity Christopher House offered. He gained confidence through a summer canoe adventure in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. He learned public speaking and research techniques through a popular Youth Leadership service project -  presenting a meal from a foreign culture at a local Cultural Kitchen series. He was motivated to work towards college acceptance by Youth Leadership’s many college tours, saying, “Those trips made me want to work hard because I saw where I wanted be.” In his senior year of high school, our program matched him with a mentor to help him through the home stretch of his college and financial aid application process.

Emanuel’s commitment and drive paid off when he was accepted to and enrolled in Purdue University. Today, he is a sophomore at Purdue, pursuing a kinesiology major with the goal of becoming a physical therapist. He is a role model for current Christopher House students, including his younger siblings, who are following in his footsteps in our after-school programs.