ABC scholars from across the US attend EHS in search of opportunity


Julia Kim

Art of Postcards.

Celeste Eckstein and Karissa Cheng

Since 1963, students of color from across the country have attended Edina High School through A Better Chance (ABC). ABC helps these high-achieving scholars gain academic opportunities by transferring them to top high schools. EHS is the only school in Minnesota involved with the program. 

This year, five ABC students from New York, Georgia, and Florida are attending EHS. Some arrived in August while others have been at EHS for years.

“The ABC students are some of the bravest students you’ll ever meet,” ABC Edina Vice President Erica Allenburg said. “To leave your home at 14 or 15 and come to a place where you know nobody and to do it all in pursuit of a better education says a lot about the character of the students that come here.” 

“It sounded cool to go to a different state, like something else my friends weren’t doing. So I was like, why not try it out?” senior Adoalisa Mba said. With the help of ABC, she was able to move from Miami to Edina for her freshman year.

Upon her arrival, Mba faced cultural differences between Miami and Edina. “The part I struggled with most was the exclusivity,” Mba said. Her freshman year was difficult because she felt like she had to break into already-formed friend groups. “Luckily, I’ve been blessed to find awesome people, to have my own friend group.” 

During her first three weeks at EHS, sophomore Bervelyn Atampugre has also noticed differences from her previous school in Georgia. She was “shocked” by the “lack of diversity” compared to her previous school.

Both Mba and Atampugre appreciate the opportunities the ABC program offers. “I believe I have more freedom to go out with my friends or join different extracurriculars…and I also have the freedom to kind of reinvent myself, or at least change myself,” Mba said. 

ABC scholars make valuable connections through the program. “We went to a dance concert that [one of the scholars] was [performing] at. And when she looked up and saw my face in the crowd, she had started tearing up,” Allenburg said. “It just really touched me.” Allenburg has hosted three ABC students, and she considers them a “blessing” as well as a “role model” for her own students. 

After graduation, many ABC students find great success; according to Allenburg, 96% of graduates from the ABC program enroll in college compared to 24% of students of color nationwide. 

In the future, Mba plans to study psychology and become a psychiatrist, and Atampugre hopes to become an anesthesiologist or work in a STEM field. “I’m looking forward to getting into a college just so I know my next steps, but also to see the results of all my work throughout these past four years pay off,” Mba said.