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2012 Workshop in Henderson, Kentucky - Story list

Good Kid

Natalie Taylor

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Mohamed Jennette, 14, participates in the "Colonels 2 College" program because he made a pact with his "Big Brother" Frank Tulipana. Students who maintain a GPA of 2.5 with consistent attendance four straight years can earn up to $1,000 per semester to attend Henderson Community College. "I haven't missed a day, yet, this year," Mohamed says.

Four high-school freshmen boys stand shoulder to shoulder at the 50-yard line of a Kentucky high school football field, holding hands. They are the captains of the Henderson County High School Freshmen Football team, and among them is 14 year-old Mohamed Jennette.

By all accounts, Mohamed is a good kid. He dedicates himself to the rigorous demands of his football team and impresses his teachers as a quiet kid who “gets it done.” He is also an active member of the First United Methodist Church.

Mohamed has three little sisters, and they are being raised by their single mother, Angelyn Gumbs. She suffers from epilepsy and can’t drive or work because of her disability. Although Mohamed has a deeply felt social relationship with his mother, she and his church community saw a need for a male role model in his life as Mohamed outgrew childhood and was starting to show signs of excess anger in school.

Mohamed was eventually matched with Frank Tulipana to become the first pairing in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Henderson County. They’ve been together for a year and a half, and until Mohamed got involved with football, the pair would spend practically every day together. They brought Mohamed and his sisters’ bikes to Frank’s house where they fixed all four, learning to take care of things. They helped an elderly woman pack up her house, learning that whatever position you’re in, there is always a way to give back. One of the most lasting lessons Mohamed has absorbed from his role models is that being a man “doesn’t mean you have to be a tough guy.”

As Mohamed branches out in school and with friends, it will eventually be up to him to continue making good decisions. Mohamed is at a crucial age where tiny interference either way could mean a huge difference in the trajectory of his life.

According to Frank, Mohamed is a “diamond in the rough” with huge potential. But Mohamed takes responsibility for himself and his future. He agrees that it is ultimately up to him to be successful, “I’m on the right track," he says, "because of my choices.”

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Mohamed Jennette shoulders the weight of Tye Collins to the amusement of Matthew Huff (right). The freshmen at Henderson County High School are teammates on the football team. The team is 10-1 and awaits the last game on the schedule against their arch rival, Owensboro High School.

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Mohamed Jennette (right, seated) waits with teammates for the rest of the Henderson County High School freshman football team before they board a bus to Union County High School to face off against the Braves. Mohamed is one of four captains on the freshmen football team. Mohamed sees the team as a sort of family where everyone helps each other. "You can't tackle someone yourself," he says.

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The Cartoon Network stalls Mohamed Jennette, 14, on his way to school. Mohamed is the oldest of four children raised by a single mother and the only boy. Many caring adults, including his mentor through the Big Brother Big Sister program of Henderson County, Frank Tulipana, keep Mohamed and his sisters on the right track.

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2012 Workshop in Henderson, Kentucky - Story list