Perseverance & Positivity Help Guide CTK Grad

We recently caught up with Anthony Ezeanyim, CTK ’20, currently in his junior year at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Anthony was his usual positive self, but spoke to having to persevere through some challenges to stay on his chosen path. His goal is to become a mechanical engineer, eventually working in the automotive industry. He is in a “3/2” engineering program, where he will complete core coursework in math and science while at Millikin for 3 years and then transition to another college for his final 2 years of engineering classes to earn his mechanical engineering degree.

Anthony first learned about Millikin from his CTK football coaches, Mr. Elbert Muhammad and Mr. Kevin Gallmeier. Anthony had excelled as a middle linebacker while at CTK, and was interested in continuing to play football in college. His CTK coaches encouraged him to attend an information session at CTK with the Millikin football coach. The college checked off several important boxes for Anthony, including being relatively close to home, offering his intended major, and collegiate football opportunity. Upon enrolling in the fall of 2020, Anthony faced several challenges which hindered his adjustment to Millikin and college in general. COVID restrictions forced all classes to be online and limited opportunities to interact with and build relationships with other students. He also had to adjust to being at a predominately white college, which often resulted in being the only or one of two students of color in his classes. Football was also postponed to the spring, and limited to strength training during his first semester. He considered changing schools after his freshmen year, but decided to give Millikin a second chance.

Returning to Millikin for his second year, restrictions were lifted, and Anthony took advantage by getting more involved on campus, joining the Robotics club and Black Student Union, and also supporting other events and organizations on campus. Although considered an outsider, he feels he began to earn respect on campus for staying true to himself, and not changing to try to fit in. He worked hard in his classes, and sought out help when needed, including the counsel of an engineering advisor. Football also returned in full force that fall, and Anthony committed a significant amount of his time and energy to the team. While coaches have recognized his hard work and tackling ability, his relative lack of experience and early struggles learning the intricacies of college defensive coverages has kept him on the sidelines during games. Although frustrated, Anthony vows to not give up and continues to be fully invested in balancing football and schoolwork.

Anthony followed in the footsteps of his brother Paul’ CTK ‘19 in attending CTK. As a freshman. he describes himself as a quiet kid (although those that know him find that hard to believe), but over time he gained confidence and embraced all that CTK had to offer. “I learned at CTK that by being myself, it encouraged others to be themselves. I ultimately became a better person.”  Anthony learned to manage his time between rigorous academics, extra-curricular activities (peer ministry, mathlete team, National Honor Society, and football), and his corporate work study job. He expressed his appreciation for all of his CTK teachers and coaches, including Ms. Cattledge, Mr. Joyner, and CTK President, Mr. Martin, for their encouragement and always demanding the best from him.

His work experience during his last three years at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBS) gave him a glimpse of the corporate world."It was a unique opportunity for a teenager from the West Side to go into a multi-million-dollar company and see how it operates, and truly be a part of it.” He connected with the people he worked with there, and valued their college and career advice. He cited two memorable experiences while at BCBS.  One was the opportunity to deliver a speech introducing Blue Cross Blue Shield’s then president at a Corporate Work Study Program event.  The second was a service project where he worked alongside his BCBS co-workers in cleaning an abandoned building on the West Side. “Coming to my community to help out, really showed they cared.”

Anthony’s perseverance and positivity has already taken him a long way. His journey to accomplishing his goals continues, but we are confident more successes are ahead. Best of luck!