Upward Bound!

Boxing Gym Student Pursuing UCLA

Not every ninth grader has a clear vision of what his/her future looks like. But Kalonnie isn’t your typical ninth grader. He wants to attend UCLA and major in graphic engineering. And with the help of the Downtown Boxing Gym and the Horizons Upward Bound (HUB) program, he’s well on his way.

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Kalonnie flashes a winning smile at the Downtown Boxing Gym computer lab

HUB is a program through Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills that prepares students from the Detroit metro area to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. Students receive academic support that helps them pursue and achieve their goals and dreams. HUB offers enrichment activities, college readiness preparation, and extra help with high school coursework.

Not only does HUB help students graduate from high school and get into the college of their choice, it also provides them support once they’re in college.

While the program offers students like Kalonnie an incredible opportunity, it requires a lot of dedication, determination, and above all, discipline. Participants attend classes 3 Saturdays a month. Once they’ve completed their freshman year of high school, students take part in a 6-week summer residential phase at Cranbrook.

Downtown Boxing Gym Connection

Kalonnie first found out about HUB through the Downtown Boxing Gym. When he learned more about the program, he knew this was something he wanted to do.

“I thought it was too good to be true,” Kalonnie said.

Brenda Gatlin serves as the Academic Dean of Students for HUB. She says Kalonnie’s demeanor from the beginning indicated he was exactly the type of student they were looking for.

“He seemed ready, focused, and able, “ Ms. Gatlin recalls.

Kalonnie had to write an essay about why he wanted to be selected for the program. Of the more than 100 applicants, 45 were selected. And Kalonnie was one of them.

“I was shell-shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Winning Foundation

Life as a high school student and a HUB student has been an adjustment. But Kalonnie is succeeding thanks in part to those around him. He says the Downtown Boxing Gym’s Khali Sweeney has been one of his biggest supporters, and so has his mom.

“It gives me so much inspiration. I’m doing this for myself and for her,” Kalonnie says.

Brenda Gatlin credits Kalonnie’s mother with giving him the foundation to succeed.

“When you have that parental support, that’s half the battle. His mother is such a supportive entity in his life.”

Thanks to the opportunities provided to him by the Dowtown Boxing Gym and HUB, Kalonnie’s mother also has a clear vision of the future. Seeing her son become a first-generation college graduate.

“I see my son walking across the stage at UCLA,” she says. “I see it. “

To support the Downtown Boxing Gym, click here. To learn more about the HUB program, click here.