Teen Accepted to IIT, Won’t Go Due to Violence

A Chicago teen has been awarded all but room and board from one of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, but won’t attend because of violence in the city.

Lander Braggs, 17, said his decision to turn down an $80,000 scholarship to IIT Technical Institute wasn’t easy, but his fear of becoming another statistic outweighed the reward.

“With all that’s going on in Chicago, with all the violence and everything, I just wanted a different environment,” Braggs told ABC News.

Braggs, who attends Lake Forest Academy on the North Shore on scholarship, applied to IIT because he wants to study engineering. At first, he was excited about being accepted  to the South Side institution, but because the offer didn’t include room and board, he’d have to live at home traveling between his Chatham neighborhood and the school’s main campus in Bronzeville.

“I’m just thinking, like, I don’t want that for me,” he says. “I want to be able to just go through life and not have to worry about what’s going to happen to me tomorrow.”

Bragg’s mother, Nicole Howell, supports his decision.

“If I have to pay something that’s fine,” she says. “I don’t want to have to look at my watch and say its 3:30, 4:30 I haven’t heard from him and worry everyday if he’s safe.”

Braggs knows that crime could happen anywhere, and that some won’t agree with his decision. But he says that he isn’t giving into fear, but is doing what’s comfortable for him.

“Be careful,” he says. “If you have such an opportunity and you want to go for it, just be careful.”

Braggs has accepted a scholarship to Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. That scholarship also only covers tuition, but his mother says she is confident she can figure out a way to pay for room and board through loans and other means.

What an entire shame that violence has this young man scared for his life.

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