In November 2018, the national Stand for Children organization awarded these three young ladies (from left: Jeanette Mmunga, Justice English, and Johana Amani) with a $16,000 Beat The Odds college scholarship. Only four high school students in Portland received this honor and three of them were S. Renee Mitchell's mentees at Roosevelt High School. Renee recognized that this moment presented a unique opportunity to support other youth. So, Renee and the three scholarship winners created I Am M.O.R.E. as a transformational platform that uses the power of personal storytelling, critical inquiry and socio-emotional skill building to help youth move past the emotional grip of their trauma, rise to their potential, and shift into the depth of their possibilities. We are all MORE than the worst thing that has ever happened to us!
Jeanette Mmunga (formerly Tosha Kitungano)
Originally born in a refugee camp, Jeanette spent her childhood knowing nothing but poverty. When she came to the United States, she was blown away by the opportunities available to her here, and the freedoms she can enjoy as a woman, which were not available to her in her African country of Tanzania. Jeanette was able to get enough college scholarships to be the first in her family to attend college. She plans to major in business and also become an empowerment speaker. (She changed her name from Tosha as a part of her healing journey.)
Justice overcame incredible turmoil in her childhood, including homelessness, a culture of low expectations within the community, and racism and bullying at previous schools. She found a supportive family at Roosevelt High School, and particularly, with one of her teachers, S. Renee Mitchell, who she me her freshman year. Despite coming from poverty, Justice has gotten over $100,000 in academic scholarships and will be the first in her family to attend college. She plans to become a journalist and help others tell their stories.
Johana is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A tumultuous family situation led Johana’s mother to bring her and her sister to Kenya, where they stayed for a few years in a refugee camp while they awaited clearance to come to the United States. Johana found a welcoming community at Roosevelt High School. Johana plans to double-major in architecture and public policy management and minor in business. Read more about her inspiring life journey at https://theimmigrantstory.org/architect/