With an athletics scholarship for running track at Manchester University in Indiana, Maurice Dees thought he had the next four years figured out as a senior in high school at Johnson College Prep. Then, a year into his education, his mom got sick and he decided to move back to the South Side of Chicago to help take care of her.
The third of four children, he was the first in his family to go to college when he headed to Manchester University to study computer science. Once he moved back to Chicago, he decided to continue his education at Olive-Harvey College because it was affordable and close to home. As a full-time student who was also working in retail full-time to help support his family, Maurice focused on taking as many math and science classes as he could to prepare to transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree in computer science. As a high school student, Maurice’s interest in computer science had been sparked by his physics and chemistry teacher who wanted his students to understand all the aspects of computer science through hands-on research projects. Maurice grew to be especially interested in computer programming.
As busy as he was, Maurice still made time to be a part of campus life at OHC. He was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, was a work study student in the IT Department, and could often be found meeting with friends and studying in the Student Activities Center. He may even have inspired his younger brother a little – Tyreece Dees is currently a Star Scholar at Olive-Harvey.
Maurice earned his associate degree from Olive-Harvey in the spring of 2017. Now, he is preparing to graduate from Chicago State University with a double major in computer science and mathematics.
One thing he has noticed throughout his education was that very few of his computer science teachers were African-American. In fact, he’s only had one, but she’s had a huge impact on his education. That made him think about how he can help change that dynamic.
“I’d like to be a programmer at a tech company, but then I’d like to teach at a university,” he said, noting that the number of African-Americans in computer science is an incredibly low percentage nation-wide, not just something he’s experienced.
About his time at Olive-Harvey, Maurice says the school offered “everything I needed at that time in my life, as I decided if I wanted to stay in school or just get a job. They helped me and motivated me – and kept me on track to my goal of getting my bachelor’s degree.”