13 ‘Achievers’ to graduate

Published 9:41 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

A group of 13 young people has spent the past year learning leadership skills in a local development program.

The Ebony Achievers, run by the Zeta Epsilon Omega alumnae chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., is a yearlong leadership development program for high school juniors and seniors. The program offers a scholarship upon completion, but the young people also pick up plenty of skills and experiences along the way.

“When I first got involved, I did it because of the scholarship that was offered,” said Dominique Muldrow, a 17-year-old King’s Fork High School senior. “After being in the program, I broadened my horizons. I gained so much from it from meeting different people and learning different skills. It was just so much I took from the program.”

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The 13 Ebony Achievers will be formally presented to the community during an event on Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn Harbourview.

“This is an opportunity to show them off to the community,” said Valerie Boykin, one of the leaders of the program.

This year’s Ebony Achievers developed and carried out their own community service projects, including collecting toys, clothes and supplies for local homeless and domestic violence shelters, stuffing backpacks with school supplies and comfort items and giving them to children of military members and supporting Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

The achievers also participated in a variety of workshop sessions on topics such as life skills, college applications, financial aid, resume development, interviewing skills and social etiquette, and they went on a trip to Washington, D.C., where they learned more about the various roles different people play in government services. The students visited Capitol Hill and talked to employees in congressional offices.

“That was the highlight of the trip,” Boykin said.

Though the group is led by a historically black sorority, young people of all backgrounds are welcome into it. The group spends time talking about diversity and African-American issues, Boykin said.

“We do spend a lot of time talking about issues that are more culturally sensitive to those in the African-American community,” Boykin said. “How do we live in a diverse culture?”

The students — mostly seniors, with a few juniors — also heard what college life is really like.

“We had a student from George Mason [University] come in and talk about what it’s really like to transition from living at home and high school to college,” Boykin said.

Soon, the students will receive scholarships from the fundraisers they have done all year.

“That’s a real help to them as they go off to college,” Boykin said.

Dominique, who plans to major in nuclear medical technology at Old Dominion University, agreed.

“It was a great program,” she said. “I would recommend it to upcoming people who want to really work for their scholarship.”

This year’s 13 Ebony Achievers are as follows: from King’s Fork High School, Antonius Copeland Jr., Christian Lewis, Jasmine Livingston, Dominique Muldrow, Dawnishia Weatherspoon and Derek Wright; from Nansemond River High School, Deric Eley, Kalea Leverette, Kaitlin Staples and Brittany Thompson; from Lakeland High School, McKinsey Bullock and Patrice Burgess; and from Windsor High School, Sherrell M. Ashburn.

For more information on the program, call Boykin at 630-6557.