BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The Youth Development Foundation (YDF) of Pinellas County, Inc. in partnership with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter and the men of Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi held their annual AKA AKAdemy Showcase and Awards program at the historic Coliseum Friday, May 24.
This year’s theme of “This Is Us” displayed and embodied the importance of teamwork, unity and community. More than $20,000 in scholarships was distributed by YDF and the Eta Rho Educational Services Foundation, Inc., including 10 book scholarships.
The AKAdemy students join in middle school and remain in the program and receive services until they graduate from high school. This year the AKAdemy graduated their largest senior class with 36 students.
“All of whom are engaged, excited and have identified a college, technical or military career plan,” said AKAdemy Program Director Manitia Moultrie.
The AKAdemy is starting their walk down memory lane in preparation for their 25th class in 2020. With such a long history of programming, they have touched the lives of more than 2,000 students.
“We are proud of the number of community youth that we have interacted with, many of whom are well into their careers, donate to AKAdemy scholarships, have children that are enrolled in the AKAdemy, have started their own community youth development and mentoring programs or have returned to support the AKA AKAdemy as volunteer facilitators, speakers and mentors,” said Moultrie.
Last Friday night’s program recognized the class of 2019 and their individual post-graduation goals, as well as the AKAdemic scholars who made honor roll or achieved AKAdemic Perfection (Dean’s List all year).
To close out the evening, the students (Exquisite Gems and Pathfinders) dazzled the crowd with a final showcase of talent, fashion and step performances.
2019 Academic Merit Scholarship
Lauryn Latimer ($1,400)
Miles Richardson ($1,200)
Jasmine Hyatt ($1,100)
Chase Moore ($1,000)
Daniel Sanders ($950)
Jalen White ($850)
Zaire Tafari ($800)
Sa’Coya McKenzie ($7000)
Natalie Fort ($750)
Donor Academic Merit Scholarships
Kaila Priester ($500)
Roweshawnah Newton ($500)
AnTre’z Smith ($500)
Taylor Cooper ($500)
Pathfinder of the Year
Jalen White ($500)
YDF AKAdemy Merit Scholarship
Dyi-mond Shields ($500)
Jalen White ($500)
Randolph Lewis Bridge Builder Scholarship
Alana Terrell ($500)
Najee Bradley ($500)
Infinite Potential Scholarship
Clayton Brody ($400)
Diamond Scrivens ($350)
YDF/AKA AKAdemy receives over $109,000 annually from the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board. The program is administered by the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter in collaboration with the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Eta Rho Chapter.
The son of Rick Oliver and Erica Abrams, Keywuan Abrams has been a member of the AKAdemy since the sixth grade. He is a member of the National Honor Society and plans to pursue a college degree at Morgan State University in graphic design.
Nyah Sherell Acoff
The daughter of Jarrod Acoff and Marcina Dowell-Williams, Nyah Sherell Acoff graduated from Northeast High School where she was a member of the Culinary Arts Program. She plans to attend Tallahassee Community College and then on to Florida A&M University.
A student-athlete and graduate of Admiral Farragut Academy, Sydni Bostick received the MVP award for the girls’ soccer team. She will attend Nova Southeastern University on a full soccer scholarship and plans to pursue nursing or athletic training. Sydni hopes to play for the U.S. Women’s national soccer team and make a positive impact in the world.
The son of Lizzie Brooks and Toney Bradley, Najee Bradley graduated from Gibbs High School and plans to attend Albany State University. He participated in the City of St. Petersburg’s Cohort of Champions and the Arts Conservatory for Teens programs. His love for video games inspired him to major in computer engineering before pursuing a career in the U.S. Army.
Najee reminds us that “if you never take a risk, you will never succeed in life.”
Sean Carter, II
The son of Sean Carter Sr., Sean Carter, II is a graduate of Lakewood High School and plans to attend St. Petersburg College to pursue a career in the music industry.
Taylor Nichole Cooper
The daughter of Aaron and Marquese Cooper, Taylor Nichole Cooper is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School where she was active in the Student Government Association and was an AP Capstone Scholar. She plans to attend Hampton University to pursue a degree in psychology. Her career goal is to become a school psychologist for children living on military bases overseas.
The son of Sermitrious and Michelle Dennis, Sergia Dennis is a graduate of Lakewood High School and plans to attend St. Petersburg College to pursue a career in film.
The son of Bernard and Teneka Dixon, Jalen Dixon is a graduate of Lakewood High School and will follow his family’s legacy by attending Florida A&M University. He plans to major in sports medicine and pursue a long-term career in the military. Jalen has been in the AKAdemy for eight years.
The daughter of Earl Dudley and Tamara Felton-Howard, Leah Dudley is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School and has been a repeat honor roll student throughout her educational career. She plans to attend Florida A&M University and major in business marketing and public relations. Her career goal is to become a public relations specialist, model and designer.
Leah’s advice to others: “You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you.”
Ja’Nabre Alexandra Flowers
The daughter of Major and Denese Flowers, Ja’Nabre Alexandra Flowers is a graduate of Gibbs High School, and her activities and honors include the Pinellas County Center for the Arts Vocal Program and captain of the Gibbs High School Step Team. She plans to attend Pinellas Technical College to pursue a career in cosmetology. Her career goal is to obtain a business management degree and own a hair salon.
The son of Kenneth and Paulette Goolsby, Samuel Goolsby has participated in several organizations including JROTC and 5000 Role Models. Sam is a graduate of Lakewood High School and plans to attend St. Petersburg College before joining the military.
The daughter of Desmond Hyatt and Latanda Springer, Jasmine Hyatt is a graduate of Calvary Christian High School where she received several honors and participated in the marching band/color guard. She will attend Valdosta State University and major in pre-veterinary science where she plans to work in a veterinary clinic and provide support to sick, hurt or abandoned animals.
Bryson Treyvon Lambert
The son of Tonya Wilson, Bryson Treyvon Lambert is a graduate of Osceola Fundamental High School and has contributed to various community service projects including the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. He is off to the military where he will begin his career in the United States Air Force.
Lauryn Janae Latimer
The daughter of Craig and Laquinda Cubby-Latimer, Lauryn Janae Latimer graduated from the Center for Advanced Technologies and Athletic Lifestyle Management Academy at Lakewood High School. Among a long list of extra-curricular activities, she was the senior class president and captain of the cheerleading team. She is very involved in Feeding Tampa Bay and has received recognition for her service.
Lauryn plans to attend Florida State University to obtain a degree in communications sciences and disorders. Her career goal is to become a speech-language pathologist and work with children in a hospital setting.
The daughter of JC and Stephanie McClendon, Jenae McClendon is a graduate of Northside Christian High School where she was on the National Honor Society, track and field team, varsity cheerleading team and the Pep Club. She plans to attend Florida A&M University and pursue a doctorate in psychology. She looks forward to having her own practice and empowering others in need.
The daughter of Ernest McDonald and Sharina McDonald, Rayauna McDonald is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School where she received several academic awards. She plans to attend Florida A&M University, where she will major in biomedical engineering and become a plastic surgeon.
Rayauna advises students to “hold your own pen and write your own story.”
The daughter of Collis McKenzie and Karen Tucker, Sa’Coya McKenzie is a graduate of Gibbs High School and plans to attend Florida A&M University and study psychology. She has been involved in several community youth organizations and looks forward to making new connections with people in her field of study.
The daughter of Jennifer Harris and Corey Miller, Briya Miller is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School and plans to attend Florida A&M University to pursue a career in nursing. She encourages others to “not let anything or anyone define you.”
Chase Ayanna Drew Moore
The daughter of Vincent and Patrice Moore, Chase Ayanna Drew Moore is a graduate from The Boca Ciega High School and is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society and the Multicultural Club. She plans to major in pre-law at Florida A&M University and pursue a career as a defense attorney.
Da’ Izahne Moore
The daughter of David and Takiyah Moore, Da’ Izahne Moore is a graduate of Lakewood High School and is planning to attend Bethune-Cookman University and major in mass communications/journalism.
The son of Anna Alexis, Marcus Odajuste is a graduate of Northeast High School and has been a part of the AKAdemy since sixth grade. He has received several certificates through his affiliation with the Future Business Leaders of America.
Marcus will attend St. Petersburg College for two years and transfer to Florida State and major in finance while minoring in business. He plans to become a financial advisor and international marketing consultant.
The son of Dexter and Rukeya Sutherland, Colin Porter is a graduate of Gibbs High School as a certified emergency medical technician and firefighter. He plans to attend the Learey Fire Academy in Tampa. He is proud of his accomplishments and advises students to “stay true to yourself under all circumstances.”
The daughter of Melinda Brown, Kei’Nosha Ramsey has been a member of the AKAdemy since 2015. She is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School and plans to attend Alabama A&M University and major in nursing.
The son of DeAunte Register and Japera Miller, Ukari Register plans to attend St. Petersburg College for two years and transfer to Florida A&M University where he will pursue a career in journalism. He has participated in several community organizations and acknowledges the importance of being a trusted leader among his peers.
The son of John and Athena Richardson, Miles Richardson is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School and is a member of several honor societies. He has learned the importance of discipline and respect during his experience as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He received numerous academic achievement and scholarship awards and plans to major in history at Hampton University and pursue a career in law.
Raymond Richardson, II
The son of Raymond Sr. and Demetrice Richardson, Raymond Richardson, II is a graduate of Lakewood High School. He has been involved in several community organizations and believes in helping others that are less fortunate. He plans to attend Edward Waters College and pursue and major in education.
The son of Daniel and Deborah Sanders, Daniel Sanders has been in the AKAdemy since the sixth grade. He is a graduate of Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. He has received several academic awards and scholarships and has been an active participant in Men in the Making program.
Daniel portrayed several of St. Petersburg’s African-American trailblazers celebrated during The Weekly Challenger’s 50th-anniversary celebration “I AM” tribute. He plans to attend Florida Southern College to pursue a career as a voice artist or broadcast journalist.
A graduate of Northside Christian School with a 4.43 GPA, Dyi-mond Shields has received numerous academic awards while participating in track and field and competitive cheerleading, to name a few. She plans to attend Kings College and major in pre-medicine.
The daughter of Tyrone and Nikita Shivers, TyAzjah Shivers is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School where she was a varsity cheerleader, AVID tutor and All-Star Cheerleader. She plans to attend Santa Fe College in Gainesville to pursue a degree in nursing. Her career goal is to become a neonatal nurse.
The son of LaToya Reedy, An-Trez Smith is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School where he was a student-athlete and crowned Mr. Boca Ciega High School. He has participated in several community programs and knows it is important to give back to his community. He will to attend Saint Leo University and pursue a degree in multi-media studies. He plans to be a professional television or radio personality.
The daughter of Raymond Laconte and Shirley Demps, Zaire Tafari is a graduate of Gibbs High School and plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design. She has her own business and hopes to become an art therapist or art teacher.
The daughter of Grady and Debbie Terrell, Alana Terrell is a graduate of The Boca Ciega High School where she was a member of the Science National Honor Society, Rho Kappa Honor Society, the Multicultural Club and the National Honor Society. She acknowledges that she has overcome the challenge of losing her godmother Terri Murph while in 10th grade.
Alana graduated with 15 college credits and will receive several scholarships, including the Terri P. Murph $4,200 scholarship. She plans on attending St. Petersburg College and then transfer to Tennessee State University and major in nursing. She plans to become a pediatric nurse and work in a children’s hospital.
Jalen Alexander White
The son of David and Ann White, Jalen White is a graduate of Lakewood High School and plans to attend the University of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi under a full basketball scholarship and major in education with a minor in political science. He has a long list of academic and civic accomplishments, including president of the Lakewood High School Student Government, induction into the National Honor Society and a captain of the AKAdemy Great Debate team for two years.
For more information regarding the AKA AKAdemy please visit the website at www.zuochapter.org.