Dr. Tyra Seldon: Married Dad Overcomes Struggle to Pursue an Ivy League Education

dssdsdsddby Dr. Tyra Seldon

In a rap world filled with the likes of Chief Keef, Lil Wayne, Drake and Jeezy, Ill Holiday is not your typical hip hop aficionado. In fact Ill Holiday, better known as Casey Bridgeford, is not your typical anything.

At the age of thirty-one, the married father of four will be a first year student at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Having earned a 4.0 GPA at IvyTech Community College in Indianapolis, Indiana, Casey is that rare student who has transcended the ranks of a community college to enter the ivory towers of the Ivy League.

Initially, school was a refuge for Casey.  A parent struggled with a drug addiction and he often moved from one housing project to another. Transitioning back and forth from home life to school life eventually took its toll and he found himself disinterested in school. According to Casey, he “couldn’t see the connection between school and life.” The only time he encountered anyone with the title Dr. was in the emergency room. If it wasn’t for members of his church who had college degrees, he wouldn’t have known that college was an attainable goal. In his own words, “I didn’t have a firm context of what college was.”

Like many young men growing up in an urban epicenter, Casey gravitated towards a career as a rap artist. After several years in the music industry and running a successful marketing firm that eventually tanked during the 2008 recession, Casey found himself on the cusp of homelessness with limited income, no job prospects and an eviction notice from his landlord.

In the fall of 2010, he decided to return to school to pursue his education.  Undaunted by the prospect of starting over, Casey elected to attend a community college to secure the educational foundation that he needed in order to be successful. Little did he know that after years away from the classroom, not only would he excel, but he mastered the coursework and soon earned 50 credit hours.

This initial success became the springboard for him to dream bigger and broader. Yet, Casey’s quest to pursue an Ivy League education and his acceptance is just as unconventional as his avenue to pay for it. Unwilling to saddle his young family with exorbitant debt, he has decided to draw on the strength of his community.  Like the rent parties that some of us might remember from episodes of Good Times, his friends, family and community members have gotten together to host an educational party and launch an online campaign to help offset the costs of relocating his family to Philadelphia.

As easy as it is to surmise that Casey’s educational success story is one that others can not obtain, he would caution otherwise. “Young people have to look at the long term effects of their decisions. If they do so, it will become clearer what they need to do and how they need to do it. It is when we focus on short term goals that we make short term decisions. My greatest transition wasn’t shifting from a community college to the Ivy League, it was transitioning my thought process.”

Dr. Tyra Seldon is an independent scholar and freelance writer who is committed to eradicating educational disparities. This article is a part of Your Black World’s Education over Incarceration Project.

 

49 Responses to Dr. Tyra Seldon: Married Dad Overcomes Struggle to Pursue an Ivy League Education

  1. Great job brother and the best to you and your family. You are truly an inspiration. Funny how this story gets minimal to no comments but say something about dark-skinned women (ie. Kevin Hart) and the tread would be endless. Our priorities and interest are so displaced.

  2. The best family picture I’ve seen in years!!!! This is the kind of Black man whom Black youth should see. This is the way Black America should be!

    • THIS IS A REAL BLACK MAN/BROTHER, I LOVE IT

      WOW, WOW, WOW… I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE OUR BLACK MAN AND HIS REAL BLACK WIFE AND CHILDERN. IT BRING TEARS TO MY EYES. I LOVE IT. I JUST HOPE HE DON’T GET THE “BIG HEAD” AND THE STAY WITH HIS PRETTY BLACK WOMAN. WOW. WHAT A MAN. WHAT A REAL BROTHER, WHAT A REAL BLACK DAD. WOW>> MAY THEY ALWAYS BE BLESSED.

  3. Truly inspiring story. I wish Mr. Bridgeford much continued success. He’s truly a brother than can’t and won’t be stopped. He’s got a lovely family and a lot of community support. Just the way we used to do it in the black community before desegregation. However, it would be nice to know what his major is, the article didn’t mention it.

  4. What a great story! It just proves that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything, overcome anything! Amen brother, stay blessed!

  5. It’s so good to wake up to read something heart warming and positive. Thank the Lord!

  6. May God bless him and his family! His truly a legend!

  7. Strange how nothing was mention about the wife. She had to put in her 100% in order for him to get this far with four children. Did you all read the article? He is a black man with 4 children and a wife. Not baby mommy.

    Now that is what got him off of his knees. A wife and his family. He has something to sustain him and he is young. His strength is coming from within the conversation with his wife. Because if she was not on the same page with him he would not be going anywhere.

    If he stays focused he will do great things and I have nothing but admiration for the whole family.

    • Deloris, you and I are on the same page! I had the same questions about where was his wife during all of this. Not everyone has a wife or woman that’ll stick with them through thick and thin. I have to give this sister props also…Taking care of four kids, and supporting her man with his endeavors, doesn’t happen everyday in the black community. I’ve seen a lot of us black folks get educated, and forget who supported them, after they’ve reached the higher echelons of society. I hope that he supports his woman later on with getting her education as well…Two strong is always better than one strong in todays society.

  8. He took responsibility and made a good decision for him and his family. He an excellent example of what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. I wish him much success and happiness.

  9. THIS IS A REAL BLACK MAN/BROTHER, I LOVE IT

    YES, TEACH OUR YOUNG BLACK BOYS/MEN TO STAY WITH THEIR BLACK GIRLS/WOMEN. THIS IS NICE TO SEE. WHAT PRETTY CHILDREN AND WIFE.

  10. LOVE IT!!! This is what REAL Black men do. And just think: he had a REAL Black woman at his side, providing support, comfort, excellent words of encouragement.

    Best wishes for the continued success of this FAMILY; not just the father/student, but the whole family. God Bless you in your future endeavors.

  11. Carolyn La Rue

    See how GOD has made you for you and your family. HE has your back, trust HIM and keep HIM first in your life.

  12. CASEY,
    MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU (AND YOUR FAMILY) AND MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS UNTO YOU AND KEEP YOU IN HIS CARE ALWAYS. I KNOW HE WILL THAT’S WHAT GOD DOES.
    MAY ALL OF US START PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER AND BLESSING EACH OTHER. DON’T WAIT UNTIL SOMEONE IS IN NEED TO PRAY FOR THEM AND BLESS. LET’S ALL JUST START PRAYING GOD’S BLESSING UPON EACH OTHER, EVEN THOSE WE DON’T KNOW – GOD KNOWS THEM. PEACE AND LOVE BE UPON YOU ALL !!!
    BLESSINGS!!!!

  13. Lester L. Washington

    ACADEMIC AND EDUCATIONAL HOMICIDE (C) MADE THIS A GREAT AND UNUSUAL STORY BUT IT SHOULD BE THE NORM!!

  14. The only thing that I could really relate to was not knowing what college really meant when I used to hear it. I also like the part about the church members having degrees because they did not when I started and with so many of us in church this is very inspirational.

    I am not as impressed with this being a story of overcoming challenge to go to an Ivy league school. I did not feel the struggle in this article like how did he manage to get through CC, with what finances?

    If he had the money to go to CC that is not that much of a struggle to me. Also, a the Dr. wrote the article and at by the end I could feel the bias of the article towards the idea that an Ivy League education is something to pursue, as opposed to following your dreams and attend where you can afford. I do not like the idea that going to an Ivy League school should make it seem that he “really” overcame, instead of seeing it as overcoming the challenges we all have.

    These stories have these hidden suggestion that if you try hard we will get what we want in life. A “bootstrap” kind of thought process. I tend not to believe this. He was running his own company at one time, so he was just waiting for an opportunity, he was already tightly wound mentally, he just had some setbacks. I just did not see the struggle here, which could be the title grabs peoples attention and these sort of stores touch our hearts, but once you become a scholar in this country you learn to critique every writer, in order to expand our mental capacity and create “our own” voice.

    I am critiquing the Dr. for this article for being more concerned about pushing a certain type of educational agenda and losing the article which I thought was about struggle beyond what humans go through daily. I did not get any of this here. Just the typical I was struggling, who hasn’t?

    School should never be the focus in ones life, but the inner classroom should always be the first classroom we attend, and don’t be late! I like the idea of overcoming, but this story did nothing to really inspire me. I am always moved by perseverance but this article left me questioning the agenda of it.

    “Not that easily swayed”

  15. Dr. Tyra Seldon is a malaprop. She used the term “exhuberant debt,” which does not exist. “Exhuberant” means very happy. Dr. Seldon meant to write “exhorbitant debt,” very high debt. Previewing and proofreading are necessary for everyone.

  16. The use of “other’s” in the last paragraph of this article is incorrect. It should be “others.”

  17. I too am on a mission, one of helping incarcerated Black Men and Black Women speak with their children once or twice weekly, thereby removing their feelings of being – abandoment, forgotten,and dejected. Through my CD Ministry I will re-connect the parents to their children. This too I pray will enable the child/children to avoid falling into evil company ( gangs or people ) of all type.
    My CDs can be purchased by going to – hopethroughharris.com and go to shop. Your purchase will allow that family to re-connect and keep the family together. Children need to speak with their parents. Please help me make that a reality!!! Thank you, eve

  18. Nice! You should have published this article after he successfully graduated from the Ivy League school, I hope they don’t read this article then find a way to kick him out!!

  19. Pingback: Married dad overcomes struggle to pursue an Ivy League education | New Pittsburgh Courier Online

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