Young men and women honored for academic excellence


ST. PETERSBURG —  Ecstatic parents packed into the Palladium last month to witness close to 400 high school young men and women of color receive the Dr. Mac J. Williams Sr. award for academic performance in south Pinellas County.

Shenyah Ruth, a 4.0 student at Northeast High School, was one of the distinguished honorees that talked about her amazing growth as a student. One of her major influences was Nelson Mandela.

“Mandela said about education that ‘it is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’” quoted Ruth.

Keynote speaker and newly appointed Minority Achievement Officer of Pinellas County Schools Dr. Lewis Brinson told students to continue to aim high and to become business owners. He said: “It’s alright to work for someone, but the end-game is to one day own your own business.”

Jerard Williams, who graduated from Gibbs High School last year, serenaded the audience and was thanked with a standing ovation.

Academic Excellence Awards, featuredThe Academic Excellence Awards have been established to honor the memory of Dr. Mac J. Williams Sr. who traveled to 17 nations and served with the International Movement and the Collegiate Council for the United Nations.

Dr. Williams set the bar high by becoming the first African American elected chairman of the Board of Trustees at St. Petersburg College. The awards in his honor are presented to students who continue to maintain the legacy by “keeping their eyes on the prize.”

To reach Allen Buchanan, email

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