Essence of Ebony Pearls Debutante Scholarship

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBERG – Heads turned and jaws dropped as 25 lovely debutantes were introduced into society at the Ebony Pearls Debutante Scholarship Cotillion presented by members of the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at the Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg.

Originally, debutantes were young women of marrying age being put on display for eligible bachelors and their families to view with marriage in mind. Today’s debutantes aren’t looking for a husband to secure their futures; no, these gorgeous pearls will make names for themselves in fields such as neuroscience, forensic psychology and anesthesiology.

The purpose of Saturday night’s affair was to highlight achievements, social grace and provide scholarship opportunities to Pinellas County junior and senior high school girls. These young ladies were recognized for their academic achievement, church, community and civic involvements.

As a part of their pre-pageantry activities, the young ladies attended etiquette, health and wellness, poise, hair and skincare workshops. The debutantes also participate in cultural activities, community service projects and attended a proper English tea themed “An Afternoon of Pearls of Wisdom” where they received words of wisdom from several distinguished women in the community.

The program was also honored to have the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Theta Eta Chapter assist with the escorts and provided the cotillion ushers from their young men’s program known as Project Alpha. These young men attended gentleman’s etiquette and mentoring workshops.

Some 700 people attended the invitation only event emceed by the sophisticated Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin and the handsome Reverend Kenny Irby of Bethel AME Church.

Debutante Mahogani Anderson

Mahogani Anderson is the daughter of Corey Anderson and Danyelle Hughes. She is a junior at The Boca Ciega High School, and some of her school programs and activities include membership in the SWAT Club, Dr. Mac J. Williams Award recipient for academic excellence, an Advancement Via Individual Determination student, an advance placement student scholar, Marine Club member and STEMTEC Associate.

She also volunteers at the Uhuru House, and has received the Junior Achievement Job Shadow Certificate of Achievement. After graduating from high schools, she plans to attend Howard University and major in African-American history. Her career goal is to become a college professor.

Mahogani’s hobbies include shopping, cooking, baking and hanging out with friends. Her escort for the evening was Jon Quinton Lamar Washington who is a junior at St. Petersburg High School. She was presented by George Smith.

Debutante Kennedi Arielle Bolden

Kennedi Arielle Bolden is the daughter of Edward Bolden, Jr. and Kathy Cason. She is a senior at The Boca Ciega High School, where she is a member of the Principal Advisory Committee, the Multicultural Club and Girlfriends Incorporated. She is also a member of Delta GEMS of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

After graduation from high schools, she plans to attend a Historically Black College or University, preferably Bethune Cookman University with a major in business management. Her career goal is to become a successful businesswoman with a Fortune 500 company.

Kennedi’s hobbies include shopping, spending money, watching movies, taking selfies and spending quality time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Zuriel Mikael Collins, a senior at Clearwater Central Catholic High School. She was presented by Edward Bolden, Jr.

Debutante Mara Lacole Brody

Mara Lacole Brody is the daughter of Attorneys Carl Brody, Jr. and Lisa Brody. She is a junior at the Center for Advanced Technology at Lakewood High School, and is a member of Lakewood High School Honor Roll and the National Honor Society, where she volunteers as a tutor.

In addition, Mara is a member of the Lakewood High School Varsity Softball Team, a three year starter for the Lady Spartans and a two year All-County selection as a first baseman. She is a member of Team Florida Travel Softball Team and was part of the delegation to Guayacil, Ecuador, as a softball ambassador.

A member of the Girl Scouts of American, Mara has earned bronze, silver and presently completing her gold award, which is the highest award in Girl Scouts. She is a Mac J. Williams scholar and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS Program.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend a university and major in cultural studies or cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. She plans to become a doctor and travel to underdeveloped countries and assist in emergency medical aid.

Mara’s hobbies and favorite activities include softball, traveling, cooking and photography. Her escort for the evening was Lawrence William Morris Hamilton, a student at St. Petersburg Catholic High School. She was presented by Carl Brody, Jr.

Debutante Alexia Nicole Byrd

Alexia Nicole Byrd is the daughter of Rolanda King and Corrie Byrd, III. She is a senior at Gibbs High School where some of her activities include membership in the BETA Program, a staff member of the school’s yearbook and she is a dual-enrolled student at St. Petersburg College.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida International University to major in psychology. Her career goal is to become a successfully criminal forensic psychologist.

Alexia enjoys watching her favorite television shows and her favorite author is Sharon Draper. Her hobbies include reading and spending quality time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Barry Gerard Brown, Jr., a senior at Gibbs High School. She was presented by Corrie Byrd, III.

Debutante JaeLyn Mone’t Dorsey

JaeLyn Mone’t Dorsey is the daughter of Janelle Batson and Herb Dorsey. She is a senior at St. Petersburg High School and is a member of the Health Occupations Student Organization. She is also a member of the Spectrum Multicultural Club, the Key Service Club, the Young Democrats Club and is editor-in-chief of the Palmetto and Pine Newspaper.

A member of the debate team and the Student Government Association, she also belongs to the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society and Class Bank #10. She also volunteers at All Children’s Hospital and the Florida Holocaust Museum.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend the University of Florida and major in biomedical sciences in the pre-med track. Her career goal is to become a pediatric plastic surgeon and one day open her own private practice.

JaeLyn’s hobbies include reading, writing poetry, playing tennis, shopping and scrapbooking. Her escort was Joshua Elijah Gilbert, a senior at St. Petersburg High School. She was presented by Herb Dorsey.

Debutante Eboni Annette Evans

Eboni Annette Evans is the daughter of Sherman and Serita Evans. She is a junior at The Boca Ciega High School Medical Magnet Program and is a member of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and the flag football team.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend the University of Central Florida and her career goal is to become a pediatric nurse.

Eboni’s hobbies include spending time with friends and family, singing in the choir, relaxing and shopping. Her escort for the evening was Koby Martino Wynn, a junior at The Boca Ciega High School. She was presented by Sherman Evans.

Debutante Shelby Alexis Fintak

Shelby Alexis Fintak is the daughter of Michael Scott Fintak (deceased) and Yolanda McGill-Fintak. She is a senior at St. Petersburg High School International Baccalaureate Program, and her activities include being the vice president of the Science National Honor Society, the National Honor Society, Art Honor Society and the Environmental Club.

A member of the Key Club, she received the Dr. Mac J. Williams Academic Excellence Award and has been a member for six years in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS AKAdemy.

After graduation from high school, she plans to travel the world, visiting places such as Japan and France. Her career goal is to write, produce and direct films, as well as own a coffee shop in Tokyo.

Shelby’s hobbies include watching old horror movies, riding her red diamond bike and taking bubble baths. Her escort for the evening was Timothy Andrews Johnson, II, a sophomore at The Boca Ciega High School. She was presented by Eland Wilson, Sr.

Debutante Maiya Alexandria Fudge

Maiya Alexandria Fudge is the daughter of Destry Fudge, Sr. and Dr. Marilyn Fudge. She is a junior honor cadet at Admiral Farragut Academy, and is a member of the National Honor Society, vice president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and a member of the varsity volleyball team.

In addition, she is the captain of the varsity softball team, Platoon Leader at Admiral Farragut Academy and a member of Girl Scout Troop 94 for 11 years where she earned bronze and silver Girl Scout awards and is currently working on the gold award.

Maiya is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS Program. She attends Bethel Community Baptist Church and participates in the Youth Usher Ministry.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend a college or university where she will play softball. Her career goal is to major in women’s studies, attend law school and become a women’s rights attorney.

Her hobbies include listening to all genres of music, spending time with family and friends and watching and playing all sports. Her escort for the evening was Kovon Neil Parker, a senior at St. Petersburg High School. She was presented by Destry Fudge, Sr.

Debutante Cornisha Dashawn Givens

Cornisha Dashawn Givens is the daughter of Cassandra Carter and Corey Devine Givens. She is a junior at The Boca Ciega High School and her activities include participating in the Spanish Honor Society, Debate Club, Multicultural Club and Cheerleading Club.

She volunteers at St. Antony’s Hospital, Great Exploration Children Museum and the Tampa Bay Orthopedic Association.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida State University and major in nursing. Her career goal is to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

Cornisha’s hobbies include shopping, designing things, cheering, dancing and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Iy’Rese A. Scott, a junior at Canterbury High School. She was presented by Corey Devine Givens.

Debutante Natori Sharnea Harper

Natori Sharnea Harper is the daughter of Erick and Kenyatta Killins. She is an Honor Society Junior at The Boca Ciega High School Medical Magnet Program, and is a member of the Girlfriends Program, a recipient of the Dr. Mac J. Williams Academic Award and a member of the cheerleading team.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida State University, and her career goal is to become an anesthesiologist.

Natori’s hobbies include cheerleading, spending time with friends and volunteering with various agencies and community organizations. Her escort was Aldrick Griffin, Jr., a sophomore student at The Boca Ciega High School. She was presented by Eric Killins.

Debutante A’Niysa Tonai Livingston

A’Niysa Tonai Livingston is the daughter Belton and Angela Livingston. She is a senior at Lakeside Christian High School, and is a recipient of the Precious Pearls Academic Award. In addition to being an honor roll student, she is a recipient of the Dr. Mac J. Williams Academic Award and the color guard quartermaster for Tarpon Springs High School National Award Band.

A lover of sports, she is a member of the basketball, volleyball and track teams and has been involved in synchronized swimming for the past six years.

She has received many achievements and various awards, and after graduation from high school she plans to attend college and major in business management and accounting with a minor in dance. Her career goal is to own a franchise of dance schools across the country.

A’Niysa hobbies and favorite activities include dancing, swimming, having fun while enjoying life and spending time with family and friends. Her escort was Osiris Warren, a junior at Northeast High School. She was presented by Belton Livitngston, III.

Debutante Shavell Tabjae Martin

Shavell Martin is the daughter of Otis Martin and Janice Thomas. She is a senior at Pinellas Park High School where she maintains a 3.8 grade point average and has received various awards all while taking rigorous courses.

She is the president of the Law Honor Society and a member of Kiwanis Club, an Advancement Via Individual Determination student, National Honor Society, Principal’s Student Advisory Council, the Criminal Justice Academy Advisory Committee, Florida Future Educators of America and Rho Kappa.

Shavell volunteers at the Sixth Judicial Courthouse for Teen Arbitration, Pinellas Opportunity Council, Daystar Life Center and participates in the Bay Point Christian Church Youth Group.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida State University where she plans to receive a doctorate in social psychology.

Shavell’s hobbies include crafting and providing for her community. Her escort was Robert James Maher, Jr., a senior at Pinellas Park High School Criminal Justice Academy. She was presented by Cresencio Davis.

Debutante Erica Nicole McCallister

Erica Nicole McCallister is the daughter of Emmett McCallister, Jr. and Shauna McCallister. She is a junior at Gibbs High School Business Economic Technology Academy where she is a member of the Key Club and the National Honor Society.

In addition, she is junior class vice president, yearbook staff member, a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Professional Opportunities Program for Student, a Dr. Mac J. Williams Scholar and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS Program.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida A&M University or Howard University, and her career goal is to become an actuary.

Erica’s hobbies include watching television, shopping and spending time with friends and family. Her escort for the evening was Jarrett Colquitt, a junior at Lakewood High School. She was presented by Emmett McCallister, Jr

Debutante Dominique Dejane McRae

Dominique Dejane McRae is the daughter of Freddie McRae, Jr. and Mandeisa McRae. She is a senior at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School and is a member of the National Honor Society.

A member of the Interact Club, she also belongs to the Ethics in Action Club, the Junior Achievement and the St. Petersburg College President’s Honor’s List.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Drexel University and major in education. Her career goal is to become an elementary school teacher.

Dominique’s hobbies and activities include reading, long walks in the park, shopping and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Tristan Queton Denton, a freshman at St. Petersburg College. She was presented by Freddie McRae, Jr.

Debutante Da’Jhal Korea Denise Monroe

Da’Jhal Korea Denise Monroe is the daughter of Kori and Twanna Monroe. She is a junior at The Boca Ciega High School where she is number one in her class.

She is secretary of the Spanish Honor Society, treasurer of the Junior Class, a member of the varsity cheerleading team, a Junior Advocate of Fab’s Forum, a member of the CWMP Program, a member of the Girlfriends Program and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated Exquisite Gems Program.

After graduating from high school, she plans to enroll as a pre-med major at a college or university. Her career goal is become an anesthesiologist and start her own office, and eventually practicing in developing countries.

Da’Jhal’s hobbies include dancing, cheerleading, watching movies, traveling, reading and spending time with family and friends. Her escort was Jean Lego-Duterne, a senior at Gibbs High School. She was presented by Kori Monroe.

Debutante Chelsea Marie Newton

Chelsea Marie Newton is the daughter of Councilmember Wengay and Melissa Newton. She is a junior at The Boca Ciega High School, where she is a member of Spanish Honor Society, the National Honor Society, flag football team, Debate Club and the Zoology Club.

After graduating from high school, she plans to attend Florida International University, and her career goal is to become a small animal veterinarian.

Chelsea’s hobbies include reading, going to the beach and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Rashad Young, a junior at Northside Christian School. She was presented by the Honorable Councilmember Wengay M. Newton, Sr.

Debutante Jelani Nadiri Pitts

Jelani Nadiri Pitts is the daughter of Robert Pitts, Jr. and Busara Pitts. She is an advanced placement and honors senior at Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, the Dance Club, the Universal Cheerleading Association and is an All-Star Cheerleader.

In additional, she is an active member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, where she participates in the Youth Dance Ministry and the Media Ministry. She volunteers at Childs Park YMCA, Enterprise Village and the Pinellas County School Personnel Office.

After graduation from high school, she plans to become a psychology major at Florida A&M University. Her career goal is to become a forensic psychologist for juvenile offenders.

Jelani’s hobbies include dancing, cheering, stepping, shopping, texting, watching television, listening to music and spending time with family and friends. Her escort was Kenneth Goodsby, Jr., a senior at Lakewood High School Center for Advanced Technologies. She was presented by Robert Pitts, Jr.

Debutante Taylor Scott

Taylor Scott is the daughter of Tiffany Scott. She is a senior at The Boca Ciega High School where she is involved in the Girlfriends of Pinellas County Program, the Marine Science Club and is a member of the Principal Student Advisory Committee.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend a four year university to major in the sciences. Her career goal is to become a respiratory therapist.

Taylor’s hobbies include reading and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Kenneth Lamar Reeves, a senior at Gibbs High School Business, Economic, Technology Academy. She was presented by Berton Clemons, III.

Debutante A’Rielle Cierra Snead

A’Rielle Cierra Snead is the daughter of Lewin and Keisha Snead. She is a junior at The Center for Wellness and Medical Profession at The Boca Ciega High School where she is a member of the Spanish Honor Society, a varsity cheerleader and is a cheerleading first place winner.

She is also a two time recipient of the Dr. Mac J. Williams Award, a national champion All-Star Cheerleader, coach for the West Coast Conference Varsity and JV Teams and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS Program.

In addition, she is the local YPD president and church school secretary. After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida International University and major in nursing. Her career goal is to become a neonatal nurse.

A’Rielle’s hobbies include cheerleading, reading, singing in the church youth choir and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Mekell Emnri Phillips, a senior at Lakewood High School. She was presented by Leewin Snead.

Debutante India Lavette Srinivasa

India Lavette Srinivasa is the daughter of Chan and Sabrina Srinivasa. She is a junior at The Boca Ciega High School where she is involved in the fundamental program, Junior ROTC and is an Advancement Via Individual Determination student.

In addition, she is involved in the Girlfriends Program, is the manager of the girls basketball team, a member of the prom committee, a member of Young Ladies of Christian Character and president of Top Teens of America.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University to major in nursing. Her career goal is to become a nurse anesthetist.

Lavette’s hobbies and favorite activities include shopping and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Dantell Green, a junior at Admiral Farragut Academy. She was presented by Chan Srinivasa.

Debutante Heaven Meredith Taylor-Wynn

Heaven Meredith Taylor-Wynn is the daughter of Brooke Taylor, Tanzer Wynn and Tommy Ward. She is a junior at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School and is a member of the National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, National Achievers Society and Top Teens of America.

After graduation from high school with both her high school diploma and associate in arts degree, she plans to attend a four year college or university and major in mass communications. Her career goal is to pursue public relations or become a broadcast journalist.

Heaven’s hobbies and favorite activities include becoming a role model for others by serving her community, reading, cheerleading, applying makeup and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Jordan Wesley Wardall, a junior at Countryside High School. She was presented by Johnny Taylor.

Debutante Sanobia Essence Turner

Sanobia Essence Turner is the daughter of Robert Turner, Jr. and Jacinta Jackson. She is a senior at Pinellas Park High School where she is involved in track and field, varsity basketball, the National Honor Society and the Florida Law Honor Society.

She is also a member of the Spanish Honor Society, the Multicultural Club, Student Government Association, Principal’s Student Advisory Team, Peer Mediation Team, Fellowship for Christian Athletes and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS Program.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Johnson & Wales University and plans to become a ballistics analyst working with the FBI.

Sanobia’s hobbies and favorite activities include shopping and hanging out with friends and family. Her escort for the evening was Kevin Gordon, Jr., a junior at Admiral Farragut Academy. She was presented by Robert Turner, Jr.

Debutante Shannon Migdalia Vazquez

Shannon Migdalia Vazquez is the daughter of Francisco and Sandra Vazquez. She is a junior at Lakewood High School Center for Advanced Technologies where she a member of the Tri-EM Honor Society and is the woodwind captain in Lakewood High School’s band.

Other activities include being a starter on the Lakewood High School Varsity Soccer Team, throws captain on their track and field team and a three-year member of the Future Business Leaders of America.

After graduation from high school she plans to attend a four-year university and major in the field of psychology.

Shannon’s hobbies and favorite activities include playing in band, participating in sports and spending time with family and friends. Her escort for the evening was Quincy Hicks, a junior at Lakewood High School. She was presented by Francisco Vazquez.

Debutante Ayanna Marie Wallace

Ayanna Marie Wallace is the daughter of Fredrick and Maria Wallace. She is a junior at Wiregrass Ranch High School Medical Academy in Wesley Chapel.

Her school programs and activities include being a member of the Wiregrass Ranch Softball Team, Team Florida 18 U Gold and is active with special needs activities at Victorious Life Church.

After graduation from high school, she plans to play softball in college and acquire a graduate degree in physical therapy. Her career goal is to become a physical therapist.

Ayanna’s hobbies include playing softball, watching movies and spending quality time with friends and family. Her escort for the evening was Devyn Castro-Almeyda, a senior at Freedom High School in Tampa. She was presented by Frederick Wallace.

Debutante Niaya Ann White

Niaya Ann White is the daughter of David and Ann White. She is a junior and an honor student at Calvary Christian High School where she is the co-captain of the junior varsity basketball team.

She also participated in the 2015 Emancipation Proclamation Service, was a Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service Youth Ambassador, a member of the Key Club, Pinellas County Athletic Conference Basketball First Team, Heir-O-Link and volunteered at the African American Health Forum and Suncoast Hospice.

In addition, she received the Dr. Mac J. Williams Academic Excellence Award, was a member of the All County First Team in 2013 and 2014, is a 2015 Florida High School Basketball Final Four participant and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Exquisite GEMS Program.

After graduation from high school, she plans to attend a college or university on a basketball scholarship and major in health information or enroll as a pre-med student. Her career goal is to become either a dentist, OB/GYN or physician’s assistant.

Niaya’s hobbies and favorite activities include modeling, playing and coaching young ladies in basketball. Her escort was Darivus Banks, a sophomore at St. Petersburg High School. She was presented by David Allen White.

Cotillion Chairperson Deborah Figgs-Sanders and Co-Chairperson Lena Wilfalk announced the awards:

  • Miss Community Service 2015 & Miss Congeniality 2015 — Shavell Martin

  • Miss Supreme Spirit 2015 & Miss Third Attendant 2015 — Erica McCallister

  • Miss Second Attendant 2015 — Shannon Vazquez

  • Miss First Attendant 2015 — Chelsea Newton

A silence fell over the room as family members, loved ones and well wishers waited with bated breath for the announcement of Miss Debutante 2015. When Dominique McRae’s name was announced, the crowd roared with joyful noise.

Dominique received the top scholarship award, and Miss First, Second and Third Attendants also received scholarships to the universities of their choice. The cotillion is a chapter fundraiser to benefit scholarships, chapter programs and community service projects. Fourteen thousand dollars in scholarships were given out that night.

Cassandra Williams, president of the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter, ended the evening by thanking the Debutante Cotillion Committee, contributors, parents, escorts, ushers, members of the sorority, members of the fraternity and all who participate in this auspicious occasion.

The night also saw a presentation of the debutantes’ mothers and or mentors, and the elegant Debutante Waltz.

To learn more about the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, visit www.zuochapter.org.

One Reply to “Essence of Ebony Pearls Debutante Scholarship”

  1. kimona mitchell says:

    Oh My God!!!!!! You two look sooooo cute together!!!!!! Congratulations guys!!!!!

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