Memphis students to meet Michelle Obama as part of higher education initiative

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Two recent Memphis high school graduates are headed to the White House.

Dellarontay Readus, the valedictorian of Melrose High School, and Bettie Elston, who graduated in the top 10 percent from Fairley High School, will attend the Beating the Odds summit Thursday.

They are two of 150 college-bound students from across the nation who were selected to attend the event.

The summit is part of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which aims to inspire students continue their education after high school.

During the day, the students will participate in panels and discussions about topics such as getting academic support in college, forming strong networks, and understanding and developing career opportunities.

Readus and Elston hope to come away with ideas on how to increase college access for low-income students.

They both attended The College Initiative, a local organization that helps low-income students apply to and succeed in college.

Readus earned a full ride to Stanford University and plans to study computer science.

He faced many challenges growing up, included being raised by a single mother who was blind and ill, and he said this opportunity should create a better future for himself and his family.

Readus’ accolades also include awards from the National Civil Rights Museum, International Paper, Leadership Memphis, Samsung, The College Initiative, Memphis Challenge and the Memphis Beating the Odds program.

Elston will study biology at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Her childhood, during which she lost her mother to cancer and was separated from her siblings, gave her a passion for people.

She wants to make a difference by becoming a doctor.

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