CPS Student Duchara Moody Earns Golden Apple Scholarship and Heads to U of I

More than any other group, the high school graduates of 2024 faced unforeseen challenges that no other students in recent memory have had to face.

They had to contend with the specter of the pandemic, the unfathomable loss of friends and relatives, either from Covid or other causes, and George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent fallout. They had to adjust to virtual learning while facing the threat of learning loss. 

Amid numerous and nefarious challenges, many of these 2024 high school graduates persevered and managed to walk across the stage and earn diplomas. They are now bound for college, trade schools, work, or other post-secondary arrangements.

The Chicago Defender recently spoke with Black Chicago Public Schools graduates who epitomize resilience and tenacity.

What follows is the story of Duchara Moody, a former Morgan Park High School student bound for the University of Illinois.   


At the height of former President Obama’s popularity, when his quotes graced T-shirts and posters, one famous saying charged individuals with assuming responsibility for the change they wanted to see.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek,” goes the saying, derived from something Mahatma Gandhi purportedly said.

Nevertheless, that quote could describe the mindset of Morgan Park’s Duchara Moody. 

Overcoming Adversity Her Freshman Year

Like other members of her class, the COVID-19 pandemic marred her freshman year, but she also had to contend with another complication that impacts so many of us. 

“Before I started my freshman year, I lost one of my friends to gun violence. That definitely had an effect on my first year,” she said.

The transition to online learning further complicated her experience.

“We were online still, so it was a lot of different things I was going through and adapting to a new way of learning,” she added.

However, Moody’s resilience shone through as she returned to in-person learning during her sophomore year. Gradually, she adapted and engaged more with her classmates and teachers, which helped her navigate her grief and the pandemic’s impact.

She identified ways to make her learning environment more enjoyable for herself and her fellow Morgan Park classmates, like when she was younger— before the pandemic. 

She ran for class president and won. 

Being The Change As Class President

I wanted to be an advocate for making school fun again. When I was younger, I used to cry if I wasn’t able to go to school,” Moody said. So, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted my classmates to want to be at school and have things to look forward to.”  

She organized various activities, including “Spirit Week” events to boost morale. Her initiatives ensured that all students, regardless of their grade level, felt included and excited about attending school.

Memorable Lessons and Future Aspirations

Reflecting on her time at Morgan Park, Moody shared a memorable lesson from one of her teachers: “Don’t let one quarter of your day or life affect the rest. Things can definitely change or get better.” This advice has guided her through tough times, and will continue to do so as she embarks on her next chapter.

As she prepares for her future, Moody remains committed to giving back to her community. 

As a recipient of the Golden Apple Scholarship, she plans to teach at a school of need, potentially returning to Morgan Park High School to inspire the next generation of students.

The subject she plans to teach is her favorite one. 

“I want to become a math teacher. I got the Golden Apple Scholarship, so I’ll be doing a summer internship,” Moody said.

As for her goal, “I just plan to be one of the best teachers that I can be.” 

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