AKA AKAdemy Showcase/Awards Program

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Each year the Youth Development Foundation (YDF) of the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. hold its annual AKA AKAdemy Showcase/ Awards Program. Last Sun., May 24 upwards of 1,500 people packed the St. Petersburg Coliseum to get a glimpse at this year’s extravaganza entitled “Celebrating an Empire State of Mind.”

The evening’s preshow featured the AKAdemy/Dream Choir directed by Dr. Kevin B. Parrot, who also served as Master of Ceremonies, and the high energy Kali Kali Dancers.

Parrott and Mistress of Ceremonies, Rachel Nunn, kept the show moving with their wise cracks and jabs at each.

Cassandra Williams, president of the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Manitia Moultrie, AKAdemy program director, delivered the Welcome and introduced the night’s showcase.

“Tonight we are blessed to highlight the accomplishments and talents of our Gems and Pathfinders,” said Williams.

After a year of workshops focused on leadership, education and community development, as well as numerous opportunities to build character, patience, self-confidence and determination, the students are prepared for a bright future.

She went on to explain what celebrating an empire state of mind means.

“Tonight we are celebrating our empire of kings and queens. Our empire of youth destined for success; our empire of families that love and support our youth and our community empire that embraces, nurtures and guide our youth into their future,” said Williams.

A brief State of the Empire report was giving by Moultrie who informed that 20 years ago it was a struggle to find the first group of 30 girls known today as Gems. Now there are approximately 263 students in the academy, which include the young men known as Pathfinders.

“I’m proud to say that we have our second generation of AKademy students. I call them our AKademy Grandkids. Their parents were the first students in the mid-1990s that were part of the academy,” she said.

Moultrie also reported on their growing and exciting annual curriculum. They’ve added the MLK Lecture Series as an annual event, went on college tours, promoted various HBCUs and provided homework tutorial systems. Also, this year they piloted a mentoring program that they plan to expand over the summer and roll out for the 2015-16 year.

With pride spilling over in her voice, Moultrie reported on several recent alums that are now doctors, lawyers, Ivy League graduates and a Gates Millennium Scholar.

The night saw dancing, a fashion show and a “friendly” step challenge between the Gems and the Pathfinders. Although the step challenge was purported to be friendly, rumors have it that the boys had been sneaking in practice time since last year, and the girls pulled together their routine in just three weeks.

The second half of the showcase featured the AKAdemy Class of 2015 Award Presentation. The AKAdemic Perfection Award was given to students who made the Dean’s list all year; the AKAdemic Excellence Recognition for those students who made the Dean’s list at least once during the school year; AKAdemic Achievement Recognition for those students who maintained good grades and made the honor roll at least once during the school year.

The AKAdemy Awards included the Angel Award, the Character Award, the Ernest Fuller Citizenship Award and the Scott Williams Pathfinder of the Year Award.

The YDF AKAdemic Scholarships were as follows:

2015 Scholarship Award Recipients

  • $1,400 Jelani Pitts
  • $1,200 Jae’Lyn Dorsey
  • $1,000 Zackary Murray
  • $1,000 Kayla Crawford
  • $900 Brittany Smith
  • $800 Victoria Williams
  • $700 Julie West
  • $400 Sherie Moody
  • $400 Matthew Pinckney
  • $400 Andrew Baker

President’s Council/Merit Scholarship

  • $500 Kevon Neal-Parker
  • $500 James Chaney

AKAdemy Book Scholarships (Each will receive $250 Book Scholarship)

  • John’Ta Edwards
  • Caitlin Skinner
  • Auhria Newton-Reynolds
  • Mar’Kisha Sherrod
  • Terrell Lumpkin
  • A’Niysa Livingston
  • Precious Pace

Dr. David T. Welch Scholarship

  • $500 Shelby Fintak
  • $500 Kevon Neal-Parker
  • Madame Vivian Rouson Scholarship
  • $250 Shelby Fintak
  • $250 Jelani Pitts

To read more about the 26 graduates in the AKAdemy Class of 2015, their biographies and post-graduation plans will be posted on the sorority’s Facebook page.

The Youth Development Foundation – AKA AKAdemy receives over $109,000 annually from the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board. The program is administered by the ladies of Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha in collaboration with the men of the Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

For more information regarding the AKA AKAdemy please visit the website at www.zuochapter.org.

The Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. works hard to promote their motto: “Sisterhood and Service.” Sunday night’s donations totaling $7,000 were given to the following community organizations to help them reach their goals and help further their missions in the community:

Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Community Action Stops Abuse, Childs Park YMCA, Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc. (Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center), Enoch Davis Center (City of St. Petersburg), James B. Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center, Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, Pinellas County Urban League, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America – St. Petersburg Chapter, Suncoast Hospice/Empath Health, St. Petersburg Free Clinic – Food Bank and the United Negro College Fund

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