Back Row: Dajuh Sawyer, Bobby Coston, Justin Black, Patrick Bentley, Javaris Greene, Antwann Jackson, Tamariay Gordon and Edward Bentley | Front Row: Abigail Payne, Erika Finley, Shanae Aarons, Jaquana Greene, Briana Hubbard and Irene Olive
BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – It takes a unique person to turn a negative into a positive, and there are many young people around this country that are doing just that every day of their lives, many of them live right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Dajuh Sawyer grew up in south St. Petersburg.
“I was a daddy’s girl,” said Sawyer. “Like most girls, I loved my dad, and not having him near was hard, really hard on me and my two sisters. To not have him take me to the park or go on father-daughter dates and little things like that. It’s been hard.”
Sawyer lost her father when he was incarcerated for a felony nine years ago.
“I’ve spoken to my dad, who’s been in jail since I was 12, and I still do and visit him too,” said Sawyer who grew up on 31st Street South.
Sawyer was blessed to have an angel in the form of her mother.
“I have a wonderful relationship with my mom,” she expressed.
Sawyer’s mother has been her rock; her strength and inspiration while her father got caught up in street life. Nevertheless, her voice echoes the deep love that can only exist between a father and a daughter.
The former student of Maximo Elementary, Bay Point Middle and Gibbs High School is highly motivated and proclaims her spiritual connection.
“I thank God for all that he has done in my life.”
The 21-year-old cited three female educators that left an indelible mark on her: Robin Mobley, Mary Diamond and Angie Wright-Nash. In the fall, Sawyer begins her senior year as a business major at Florida A&M University and has plans on obtaining an MBA from there also.
Upon graduation, she plans to return to her hometown with aspirations of becoming the first African-American female mayor of the City of St. Petersburg.
Post-secondary education or specialized job skills training after high school is an absolute necessity. That’s the impetus behind the second year of Javaris Green’s Let’s Talk College Workshop held at St. Petersburg College last Saturday afternoon.
Students who attend high school in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties came out to hear a group of young panelists and future community leaders talk about how getting into college is just the beginning.
“When I came home from college for summer vacation, my parents started enrolling me in courses at SPC so I could graduate on time,” said former East Lake High School football star Justin Black.
“Make your library your best friend,” said Briana Hubbard, who told the room how she learned during her freshman year that excessive sleeping was a waste of good studying time.
Gibbs High School instructor Erika Sutherland underscored knowing what kind of learner you are.
“Are you a visual learner, an auditory learner or a kinesthetic learner,” asked Sutherland, who revealed that she’s a visual and a kinesthetic learner.
“Me sitting down with a book is not going to work for me. I’ve got to get up. I’ve got to walk around. I’ve got to come back to it,” she said.
Sutherland warned students that not all classes will pique their interest, but that is no excuse not to do their best.
Students entering college will immediately become aware of the various learning environments that exist. Educator Bobby Coston emphasized that at the end of the day, it’s the environment you build, or do not build, that will determine your success or failure.
“Your environment will be what you create for yourself. So if you’re going to put yourself in that place where people are about the business of being successful, then you’ll be successful too.”
For more information about the annual Let’s Talk College workshop, Javaris Greene can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.