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YES Prep Northbrook grad overcomes hardships

Tracy ManessMay 28, 2019

Raised by a single, working mother, Marcus Brown-Salinas learned to be independent early on. But when she got sick, his teachers and coaches at YES Prep Northbrook surrounded him with support.

Tomorrow, Marcus will walk across the stage as a member of the school’s inaugural graduating class, and he plans to attend Houston Baptist University in the fall, as the first person in his family to go to college.

Marcus’ mom started developing systemic scleroderma, a serious disease that impacts the blood and organs, when Marcus was in the eighth grade, but the symptoms started showing up in his freshman and sophomore years.

“I felt pretty upset because it was all happening when I was playing football, so she wasn’t able to make it to my games,” Marcus said. “And then by my junior year, it really hit because she was in a medical coma, so I wasn’t really able to see her, like at all. Not just for my football games, but at home.”

But the staff members at YES Prep Northbrook rallied around the young man, giving him rides to school and practices for football, track, basketball and baseball, making sure he spent extra time studying after school when he needed it and encouraging him to work hard in athletics.

“I had a very good, supportive system around me, at school and outside home.”

Marcus said he it didn’t really hit him that he would be leaving high school and heading to college until about March. He said the process seemed to take a while, but he is excited about the next steps.

Marcus has a healthy financial aid package and will attend freshmen orientation at HBU in late June. He said he looks forward to what awaits him there, including the fact that it’s a smaller school with smaller classes and more opportunity to have one-on-one time with professors to get extra help and a wide range of activities he can explore and find out what interests him. Unsure of what he will ultimately study, for the moment, Marcus is considering psychology, sociology, environmental science and cultural studies. Trying out for the football team as a walk-on is another option he’s thinking about.

These days, Marcus’ mom is waiting for a lung transplant. He wants her to know he greatly appreciates her support over the years. “I love her a lot, and (I’m grateful for) everything that she’s done for me and my sister, just raising us, like by herself because it’s not easy for a woman to raise a man.”

YES Prep Northbrook Principal Bryan Reed said he counts on his staff members to build strong relationships with students like Marcus to help them succeed during their time at the school and far beyond.

“When students come to us, it’s our job as a school to earn the trust of each student and his or her family,” Reed said. “We don’t expect students will show up ready to trust us. It takes time and stubborn determination on our part to prove that we’ll be a consistent, positive presence for them at a place where they can comfortably open up about issues they may be trying to cope with on their own.”

Marcus encourages parents of different economic and social backgrounds to consider YES Prep Northbrook and other YES Prep campuses for their children’s education.

“Every teacher is here to help. You know, the teachers really don’t encourage you to sit quiet. If you’re confused, talk to them after class. YES Prep isn’t built to have students be afraid of things. You know, they always want you to push to your absolute best and go over and beyond.”

tracy.maness@hcnonline.com

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