Black Achievers program marks 20th Anniversary

Local high school seniors received more than in $30,000 to further their education during the 20th annual Black Achievers in Business & Industry Awards.

Black Achievers program marks 20th Anniversary
May 18
06:30 2017

Photo by Tevin Stinson



During the 20th annual Black Achievers in Business & Industry Awards Gala, the Winston Lake Family YMCA awarded more than $30,000 in scholarship funds to more than a dozen local high school seniors who completed the Black Achievers teen program.

Since 1997, the Black Achievers program has helped teens set and pursue high educational and career goals. The high school component meets twice per month, where there are sessions on a variety of topics related to college preparation and career development, ranging from test taking skills, SAT Prep and job readiness. The program also offers students opportunities for service learning through volunteering, social development, networking and college tours.

“Overall this has been a wonderful experience,” said Joseph Mackenzie a senior at Reynolds High School. “Not only did Black Achievers prepare me for college but it also helped build lifelong friendships with likeminded people in the community.”

East Forsyth senior Devin Higgins,  who will be attending UNC Pembroke in the fall on a football scholarship, said, the program helped him become more responsible in the classroom and everyday life. Higgins mentioned he has  also learned the importance of being a leader. When asked how it felt to be in the 20th group of students to complete the program, Higgins said, “It gives me a sense a pride to know that so many people before me had the same goals as me and wanted to do something with their lives.”

Other local students honored during the gala held at the Hawthorne Inn were: Amariah Scott, Brelynn Wray, Krishayla Rolle, Willie Leak Jr., Jaylen Jeffreys, Jasmine Dove, Jada Dove, Kenedy Singletary, Malaysia Penn, Ryan Horton, and Tyra Penn.

Several local business owners and community leaders were honored during the gala as well. The Minority Business Award was awarded to David Hinton. Distinguished Service Award winners were Joseph R. Daniels and Reginald McCaskill, and the Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Dr. Elwanda Ingram.

The keynote address was delivered by North Carolina native Donovan Livingston, an author, educator and Ph.D. candidate at Wake Forest University. Although he is a published author, Livingston is most known for his spoken word performance during the convocation at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2016 that went viral.

Just as he galvanized millions across the globe with his poem “Lift Off,” Livingston did the same thing last Thursday evening when he spoke to the class of 2017.

“As awesome as this moment is, this is only the beginning.” he said. “Celebrate this moment but figure out how you can continue to grow and leave your mark on whatever college or university you plan to attend.”

While looking back on his own undergraduate days at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Livingston encouraged the students to use the college experience to find their voice and make sure that voice is heard. Livingston said one of the reasons he chose to attend UNC-CH is because it was a place his voice would be heard, and his passion for spoken word and poetry wouldn’t be deemed as a form of rebellion

He said, “College for me is a moment in self-discovery. It’s more than being financially stable or finding the job that’s going to make you a lot of money. You have to find a way to connect the change you want to see in the world to the job and career you want to have down the road.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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