Phillips Andover Academy’s (MS)2 Program: The Square Root Of Success For Talented Minority Students

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David Bramble says he has always been fascinated with Mathematics and Science. However, as a middle school student, he struggled with Mathematics but one tutor plus one program called (MS)2 equaled up to just the right answer.

“When I was in middle school, I needed a math tutor,” Bramble said. “By the time I was a freshman in high school, I was invited to interview and test for the (MS)2 program by my math teacher. I did, and spent three years in Phillips Academy Andover. It was amazing. It was a life-changing experience that exposed me to high-level math and science. It put me around a lot of smart, highly motivated students and staff.

“The math and science were intensive. (MS)2 sharpens your mind and problem-solving abilities. It also puts you in a great position for college. (MS)2 shows that sometimes we don’t always know our strengths. It totally changed my relationship with math. For me, (MS)2 was a total game changer.”

Founded in 1778, the offices of Phillips Academy Andover are located in Andover, Massachusetts. Andover’s longest-running educational outreach program, (MS)2 advances diversity in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields by developing the competencies and self-confidence of outstanding high school students of color. The program offers students who have a demonstrated financial need the opportunity to live and study at Phillips Academy Andover for five weeks during three consecutive summers.

Each summer, approximately 35 new students are selected for the highly competitive program. Donor support allows the students to attend on full scholarship, including transportation.

The program recruits from 11 targeted cities, in: Baltimore, Washington D.C.; Boston, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Lawrence, Fort Worth, Memphis, Louisville and Cleveland. Baltimore was recently added to the list.

David Bramble, founder of MCB Real Estate, is a 1993 (MS)2 graduate.

Courtesy Photo

David Bramble, founder of MCB Real Estate, is a 1993 (MS)2 graduate.

Bramble is a 1993 (MS)2 graduate and recently re-engaged with the program. A corporate and real estate attorney by training, he is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University. He is the founder of MCB Real Estate, and said he dedicates his time to sourcing transactions, financial structuring and overseeing project underwriting and execution.

“I am so excited to be reconnected with (MS)2 and their efforts to recruit students from Baltimore City Public Schools,” said Bramble who is the son of Baltimore Times Newspaper founders Peter and Joy Bramble. “In my business, I use math everyday. It may not necessarily be the complex things I learned in (MS)2 but participating in the program reinforced confidence. It also made me feel prepared to take on all kinds of challenges. Academic confidence leads to success.”

According to data, (as reported by 2011-2017 program graduates) 97 percent of (MS)2 graduates attend a four-year college; 83 percent of its alumni earn an undergraduate degree; and 99 percent of the program’s scholars graduate from high school.

“If you look at the statistics in terms of how many of the program’s graduates go to college relative to the community at large, it’s amazing,” said Bramble, who is now 43. “I would encourage any student with the opportunity to participate in (MS)2 to do it.

“My experience was slightly different than many kids. I have been very lucky in my life. Some kids don’t have the supportive environment like I had growing up. I traveled with my parents, which exposed me to other places. For kids who don’t have that opportunity, this is that opportunity. It’s an eye-opening experience.”

Dianne Domenech-Burgos is the director of (MS)2 and a Math Instructor, at Phillips Academy, Andover. She talked about the program extending its recruitment efforts to Baltimore.

“We hope to recruit more African American males,” she said. “The statistics of how many African American men are incarcerated, drop out of school, and/or are murdered is staggering. We want to help change that landscape.”

As director, Domenech-Burgos’s responsibilities include overseeing the strategic planning and fundraising efforts. “Many alums have testified that the program has had a transformative effect on their lives,” she said. “The majority of our students come from low income families, are first generation college students and some come from single head of households.”District of Columbia native Jide Ome- kam Brown is a 2013 (MS)2 graduate. “(MS)2 wholeheartedly set me on a track for success, bringing me out of the sweltering heat of Washington, D.C., and into the cool classrooms of Gelb for three consecutive summers,” he said. “I spent my earlier summers engaged with English, calculus, chemistry and physics courses. These classes set a precedent for the academic grit and work ethic I would need to get me through four years of college to where I am today.” Jared Crooks is a 2015 graduate of the program. “If I could describe what (MS)2 means to my life I would say ‘transformative,’” said Crooks, who is a native of Fort Worth, Texas. “Being chosen as a young Texan who was sincerely interested in math and science, but didn’t have the tools or opportunities to develop it into a passion, was the most gracious and blessed things that could have happened in my educational career.”

Micah Daniels is a 2018 graduate of the program. She is a native of Navajo Nation, Utah.“We became a family,” she said. “Together, my classmates and I struggled, cried and pushed ourselves through the rigors of (MS)2 . They made me into the person I am today. Our conversations and interactions have informed how I conduct myself in stressful situations. I was surrounded by people who made me believe it was possible to get out and make a different in the world.”

For applicant criteria and other information about the (MS)2 program, visit https://www.andover.edu/about/outreach/ms2.