Senior Spotlight: Folu

Folu Adenuga
East Mecklenburg High School

Fiyinfoluwa “Folu” Adenuga, a CIS graduate in the Class of 2024, is overjoyed to be headed to Duke University this fall!  Folu says she experienced a pivotal moment in her academic journey last year when she was accepted into DifferenceMakers® CLT, a unique inter-generational leadership program developed by CIS-Charlotte in partnership with The Gambrell Foundation.  Folu claims that the support and connections she made in the DifferenceMakers®  program played a huge part in her acceptance to Duke University.

From the outset, Folu was eager to begin applying to colleges, with Duke University at the top of her list. Despite her excitement, she was also apprehensive about the challenging application process and Duke’s notoriously low acceptance rate.

During the DifferenceMakers® trip to Washington, D.C. [a three-day trip that each DifferenceMakers® cohort experiences as part of the program], Folu shared her aspirations and concerns with CIS staff and community members. It was on the trip that she met Charles Thomas, one of the DifferenceMakers® adult community members and a Duke University alumnus. Once back in Charlotte after the trip, Charles introduced Folu to his network, including Leslie Marsicano, also a Duke graduate who had served in Duke’s admissions office. Recognizing the unique opportunity to help, Leslie collaborated with Holley Brown, Alumni Program Manager at CIS, to host an essay writing workshop specifically for students applying to Duke University.

At the workshop, Leslie walked everyone through each essay question, sharing priceless tips on how to write compelling answers. Folu soaked in all the advice and used it to polish her essays. She later told Mrs. Marsicano how incredibly helpful the workshop was, saying it helped her perfect her application and truly showcase her best self.

The waiting period after submitting her application felt endless, but one day, the long-awaited news arrived: Folu had been accepted to Duke University! She was overjoyed and grateful, giving credit to the DifferenceMakers® program and the workshop led by Mrs. Marsicano for her success.

In Fall 2024, Folu will embark on her college journey at Duke University. She had the opportunity to visit the campus over Spring Break, participating in the Black Student Alliance Invitational (BSAI), a program designed to support newly admitted Black students. Additionally, Folu’s hard work and dedication have earned her more than $90,000 in scholarships from various sources, including the Blacks in Technology Charlotte Promise Scholarship, the National Football League Players Association-Charlotte Chapter Scholarship, The Charlotte Post Foundation’s Best Top Senior Award, the Foundation For the Carolinas CMS Scholarship Incentive, and Duke University itself.

Folu’s story is a testament to the power of community support and the DifferenceMakers® program in transforming dreams into reality. As she steps into this new chapter at Duke University, she carries with her the encouragement and assistance of those who believed in her potential. Congratulations to Folu!

“DifferenceMakers has been one of my most impactful high school involvements. It brought me out of my shell and helped me step into my leadership skills. I learned the importance of social networking, while gaining valuable connections with my peers, coordinators, and Charlotte community leaders. 

After the Duke essay workshop, I reached out to Mrs. Marsicano who helped me edit my essays. I am proud to say that I am now one of the 4.1% of regular decision applicants who was admitted into Duke University’s class of 2028. I thank DifferenceMakers for being such a huge stepping stone and continuous support in my story; I am so proud to be an alumni.”   

– Folu Adenuga