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Hometown: West Chicago, IL
high school: Community HS (Illinois)
college: Amherst College
MAJOR: Mathematics and Black Studies
On August 17, 1988, after serious coaxing, Amanda Christine Bass finally arrived in West Chicago more than eight days late. Born on the birthdays of her mother’s father and father’s mother, Amanda opted for a grand entrance. When she was delivered, Reginald and Patricia Bass didn’t hear the guttural bawl they expected from a typical newborn baby. Instead, there was silence in the delivery room. The doctor stared down at Amanda. Amanda stared, wide-eyed and unflinching, right back at her. “Interesting,” commented the obstetrician. “We don’t really see babies this alert. Ever.” Amanda calmly continued to observe her surroundings as though already aware that the world she entered was in serious need of improvement. Born with an insatiable curiosity and the innate impulse to pose a challenge rather than cry, Amanda has spent the last seventeen years of her life dedicated to fixing the world in which she lives.
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After being home schooled until the eight grade, Amanda entered public school as a lover of mathematics, a lover of black history and a lover of the written word. Home schooling offered Amanda the opportunity to study American history through the eyes of individuals like W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Benjamin Bannaker, Daniel Hale Williams, Ida B. Wells, and Lewis Latimer to mention a few. Amanda’s knowledge of black history equipped her to face and to challenge the biases in her high school’s curricula.
Being one of only a few students of color in her senior class, Amanda views academics as a means by which black students can gain ground that has been lost. Amanda finds her inspiration to excel academically from civil rights activist, father of sociology, and the greatest intellectual of the twentieth century, W.E.B. Du Bois. “In the Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois describes the presence of a veil that distinguishes and separates your life as a black student from the lives of your white peers” she says. “While you may not be viewed as equals by the society in which we live, the classroom is a level playing field due to the fact that it’s your mind against theirs.”
Throughout high school, Amanda has served as a peer tutor in mathematics, science, and Spanish. As a sophomore, Amanda was inducted into her school’s Spanish Honor Society and earned the position of Non-Native Spanish Student of the year. Amanda has served as a bilingual teacher’s aid in mathematics, which has enabled her to work with students who do not speak fluent English. Amanda is a four year member of her school’s math team and currently one of the senior team captains. After being inducted into the National Honor Society as a junior, Amanda has contributed more than fifty six hours of community service to underprivileged students of color in her neighborhood. Amanda has volunteered as a tutor for kids who live below the poverty line in one of the whitest and wealthiest counties in Illinois. Amanda is currently on track to graduate valedictorian of a student body of nearly 2,500.
Amanda will attend Amherst College where she plans to double major in mathematics and black studies. Amanda intends to pursue a career in civil rights law for her desire is to advocate for changes in the public school educational system for children of color. “You can’t just do nothing,” she says. “You have to fight it and rewrite it.”