Qadry Taalib wanted to do more.
When he was presented with a project idea in the fall semester, the St. John Vianney High School senior had an idea of how he could make it even more impactful.
"I started the project originally because Ms. (Grace) Burnworth was saying we have to find a local issue to help," Taalib said. "I thought that I should go bigger than that and work for single mothers, because my mom wasn't married to either of our fathers. My brother and sister had a dad but he wasn't always active in their lives, but my dad was. I saw my mom struggle a lot growing up, so I thought I should raise money for single mothers."
Taalib started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the cause. He promoted it on his Twitter account and started a new Twitter profile to raise awareness and money.
The campaign took off and, with the help of everyone who has gotten to know him, Taalib was able to raise $692.
"It was really great for me because I saw I was raising money and I was actually going to make a difference," he said. "I donated it to the Almost Home foundation, it's like a single mother’s charity in downtown and it helps mothers with diapers and helps pay their rent when they need it, anything as far as that."
"I was really happy getting all those donations and people giving me great feedback about what I’m doing. I actually had a newspaper approach me about it in my Twitter DMs and wanted to write an article on me. I'm not a person to brag on the charity I do. I just wanted to do it for the mothers."
Taalib, who earned all-state recognition for his work as a defensive lineman on the football field and also has established a following as a music performer, isn't one to brag about what he does to help others.
He just does what he can to make a difference and plans to continue to do that into the future as he starts the next phase of his life as a student-athlete at Robert Morris University-Illinois in Chicago. After college, he's hoping to do even more.
"It's whatever I can do," Taalib said. "I know once I get older, get a job and get a little money, I’m going to definitely put some aside to share for things like that. Once I grow up I want to give back to where I'm from."
That's something he has learned from his family, including his older brother, Jayvn Solomon, a graphic designer who also does public speaking on topics like racism in schools and workplaces.
"Jayvn has always been a creative person," Taalib said. "He likes to help other people out, whether it's just us or friends or whoever. It was a big thing for him."
Taalib credits his mom, Derrika Solomon, for instilling in him and his older siblings about working to help others and make a difference.
"Our mom goes the extra mile to help other people out before she helps herself," Taalib said.
What did his mom think of Taalib's charity work?
"She expects that from me because of both my older siblings," he said. "She has high expectations for me. When she heard I was doing that she contributed her money to it and told everybody about it, put the word out on her social media and helped me out a lot. She's a big help in everything I do."
And Taalib is expecting his mom to be going crazy on graduation day, May 12, which is also his 18th birthday.
Taalib's family members won't be the only ones, because of the impact he has made on people during his four years at Vianney.
"Qadry is one of those kids you will never forget," said Michelle Steeg, the head of Vianney's counseling department. "He has that magical spark that draws people to him. In my time in education, I have been blessed to work with some of the most incredible young adults you could ever imagine. Q is one of those young men. Qadry is a smart guy, there's no doubt about it. But where he really impresses me are in his instincts and street smarts. This is even more evident when he's playing football. He is a leader to his teammates, classmates and quite frankly to the entire Vianney community. His positive energy is electric and vibrates through the halls of our building."
Taalib will be missed at Vianney, but as he takes some time to reminisce about his time as a Griffin he knows he'll miss it as well.
What will Taalib take away from his time here?
"Everything, honestly," he said. "The good and the bad. Especially my good experiences with the staff and the teachers. My good friends. I met a lot of friends here that I had no idea who they were before. I just learned a lot here, on the outside, from a life perspective, and with school. Everything, the good and the bad, have been blessings."
Student Spotlight: LUKE PROST
Student Spotlight: JOHN ALLEN
Student Spotlight: ALEX HEIB