The Big IDEA 20th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight
Oluwaranti (Ranti) Agbe-Davies
Class of 2012
When Oluwaranti Agbe-Davies, better known as Ranti, transferred to IDEA as a senior, she harbored thoughts of dropping out of school altogether. “I had just had twins,” Ranti explained. She was worried about being judged and about balancing motherhood and school. “Once the people at IDEA found out what I was going through, everybody just started giving and it changed my life. It was a fresh slate and I couldn’t have asked for a better 12th grade year.”
At the time, IDEA partnered with a program for teen parents. The program’s representative at IDEA was Jasmine Miller, who became one of Ranti’s lifelines. “She talked with my teachers so they understood my situation. I was not thinking about going to college when I came to IDEA, but Ms. Miller pushed me to stay in school and apply to colleges, and I earned scholarships.”
A few months before graduation, Ranti’s mother told her to move out and take her baby girls. She was on her own, but not without steadfast support from her IDEA family. Ms. Miller helped Ranti find transitional housing. IDEA helped pay for her senior dues, and more importantly, helped Ranti--originally from Nigeria--renew her green card, which her mother had let expire. On her birthday, Ms. Miller made Ranti a cake. Another staff member, Ms. Randolph, took Ranti to celebrate by getting her nails done. For prom, Ms. Miller gave Ranti a dress that she’d worn to a wedding.
After graduating, Ranti enrolled at Trinity Washington University and was working at Walmart to support herself and her girls. Soon afterward, Ranti’s grandmother died. “She was the only one that accepted me when I got pregnant, and she had pushed me to go to college.” The grief was too much for Ranti and she stopped going to school, and later lost her job. A counselor then connected her with a caseworker, who helped Ranti obtain a housing voucher and start a vocational training program.
Now Ranti is back on her feet. She works for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and is studying psychology at Montgomery College. “When I was a teenager I didn’t know my value. I didn’t know I had a life ahead of me. I want to go into psychology so I can work with teenagers to help them find out who they are. The people at IDEA were so helpful. Students don’t realize just how much help is available. Some may be too proud or too scared or may not think they have a voice. There are people at IDEA who have so much they can give you. All you have to do is open your mouth and ask.”