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Class of 2004

Brent Cash

Hometown: Glenarden, MD

high school: Eleanor Roosevelt

college: Duke University

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering

Brent Cash admires Dr. Ben Carson as his role model, inspired by his ambition and ability to overcome. Although Brent lives in an area where few excel in academics, he has persevered to become a leader and scholar of outstanding proportions. Remembering old friends and haunted by the chilling story of a friend shot to death, Brent strives to ensure that younger students in the neighborhood focus on school. To do so, he instituted an elementary school tutoring program that encouraged students to excel in school and avoid outside negativity. To further motivate neighborhood students, he serves as editor of the Kids’ Corner for the city newsletter, composing an educational column for youth.

Brent hopes the elementary school students he tutors will embrace academic enrichment as he has. As a recipient of the AP Scholar with Distinction award, Brent has dominated a challenging curriculum of twelve AP courses and earned a 4.86 GPA one year. His scholarly achievements have been recognized with awards such as National Achievement finalist, Ventures Scholar, Outstanding Students of America, Maryland Distinguished Scholar, and the Honorary Science Award presented to the most skilled student in science at his high school. Taking Calculus 3 and Differential Equations as a high school senior, he proved he is a capable mathematician. Brent joined an elite group of 231 students statewide who qualified to compete in round two of the University of Maryland Mathematics Competition. He ranks in the top 1% of a class of 693 students and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by these peers.

Brent’s academic merit and dedication to the community have resulted in many leadership positions; he is President of the National Honor Society and captain of the Science Bowl team. He was selected by the head coach of the Varsity basketball team to serve as Student Assistant Coach, a position in which he learns the trades of coaching, mentors younger players, and runs tutorial SAT sessions. Brent also tutors and fulfills community service as a Spanish Honors Society member. Of all his activities, Brent finds research to be the most compelling. He interns at the University of Maryland’s Mechanical Engineering Lab, where he explores the complexities of a highly preheated air combustion system. Selected as a NASA SHARP apprentice, Brent spent one summer taking research to the next level as he completed an intense eight-week program in biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin/Madison. He aided in the design of an interface that allows a quadriplegic greater self-control of his environment.

Inspired by the research that he says “left an indelible impression on my life,” Brent believes that the medical issue should be a forefront concern for African Americans. He hopes to improve communities as a philanthropist of medical research and healthcare access. With gifted hands and a mind to match, Brent aspires to mirror the accomplishments of his role model and to understand the big picture one day.

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Class of 2004

Caprice Gray

Hometown: New York, NY

high school: Hunter College

college: Yale University

MAJOR: Psychology

GRAD. PROGRAM: Harvard School of Public Health (2010, MPH)

Caprice has won numerous awards throughout high school and college, including being named a scholar Summa Cum Laude by the National Latin Award, the 1st Place Winner for Memoir in the highly competitive Bertelsmann World of Expression contest, and a repeat Gold Key Winner from the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for, among other accomplishments, Dramatic Script; Original Essay, and Short Short Story. She has also been recognized through the NAACP ACT-SO Competition, where she was named the national 1st Place Winner in Playwriting, as well as the regional first place winner in Poetry and Original Essay. Her work is soon to be published in What I Know Is Me, a collection of stories; and in an anthology from the National Book Foundation (presenter of the coveted National Book Awards), titled Sounds of this House. She is currently working on a novel.

Caprice graduated from the exclusive Hunter College High School with top honors, including being awarded the Marie G. Berne Memorial Prize for her abilities in Latin, as well as top awards in English and Literature. Excelling in a range of areas, Caprice was recognized as an AP Scholar; a National Achievement Finalist; and a National Merit Commended Scholar. She was a finalist for the coveted National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award in Writing and a member of the National Honor Society. She is also familiar with journalism; having worked as Executive Youth Editor of the regionally-circulated newspaper, Harlem Overheard, and as staff reporter for her school’s newspaper. In addition, she is involved with the theater community as President of the Ethnic Performers’ Guild at Yale.

Born and raised in the heart of the inner city, Caprice was also fortunate enough to attend one of the most prestigious magnet schools in the nation. For this reason, she was able to see firsthand the repercussions of “academic apartheid” — the gross discrepancies between the education afforded to children of the privileged versus those in marginalized communities – and the startling abundance of dreams that were not only deferred; but, too often, never provided the fodder on which to grow. Caprice has long striven to fight for the needs of the people in such ignored communities, and was awarded an Outstanding Contribution to Community Service Award from New York City Councilwoman C. Virginia Fields for her dedication. She has volunteered as a counselor for the Children’s Aid Society, working with young children, many of whom were homeless; and tutored adolescents at The Harlem Children’s Zone in Biology and the Natural Sciences as well as in English and American History. Having been raised in a household which experienced domestic violence, Caprice served on the board of T.A.R.A. (Teens Against Relationship Abuse), a group which strove to promote healthy relationships and alleviate domestic brutality from communities wherein there is already too much surrounding violence. She continues this commitment to community even at Yale. She is involved in clinical work with residents who suffer from severe mental illness; volunteers as a mentor with New Haven adolescents; and has worked consistently with America Reads in the New Haven public school system. She even brought her concern for social justice to the international scale, working in Mexico with impoverished communities; victims of domestic violence; and developmentally disabled individuals during the past summer.

Fascinated with public health, Caprice began researching diabetes in high school; spreading awareness of the disease with the assistance of Harlem Hospital and Columbia Presbyterian. Living with a father who was often so sick with the illness that he suffered from bouts temporary insanity; once slipping into a coma from which he eventually recovered, Caprice’s work was heart-felt. A psychology major, she is currently working on a year-long directed research project at the Comparative Cognition Laboratory at Yale, hoping to investigate the phylogenic relationship between humans and C. apella (Capuchin primates); and is preparing to go abroad again, this time in a public health program on epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland.

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Class of 2004

Chaz Beasley

Hometown: Conover, NC

high school: Newton-Conover

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: Economics

GRAD. PROGRAM: Georgetown University Law Center (2013, JD)

Currently, Chaz is representative of the North Carolina House of Representatives (District 92). He cites the Ron Brown Scholar Program in his decision to run, as the Program is a personal example of how a supportive community can transform lives. Through public service, he hopes to put the Program’s values of building genuine relationships and supporting future generations into action. Chaz lives near Charlotte, NC. Strong communities are built upon the idea that the success of one is linked to the success of all. Without the thriving, supportive community of Ron Brown Scholars, Chaz Beasley would not be the person he is today.

Born and raised in the foothills of North Carolina, Chaz grew up in a low-income, single-parent home. Facing the challenges of poverty, his family did not have the money to pay for an increasingly-expensive college education. The Ron Brown Scholar Program helped bridge that gap, supporting Chaz as he graduated from Harvard with honors.  The Program honed Chaz’s desire to give back. After graduation, Chaz worked to reform the housing industry during the toughest days of the recent economic crisis. His desire to change the way our nation’s laws impact economic growth encouraged him to attend law school at Georgetown.

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Class of 2004

Delbert Green

Hometown: Opelousas, LA

high school: Louisiana School for Math, Science & the Arts

college: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MAJOR: Biology

GRAD. PROGRAM: Harvard University (2010, AM): Harvard University (PhD Candidate)

André is a senior PhD student (expected graduation, November 2013) in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at Harvard where he is supported as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and Harvard GSAS Graduate Prize Fellow. He earned his BS in biology at MIT (2008). His current work with Prof. Cassandra Extavour involves uncovering the molecular genetic basis of organ size specification, and determining how these factors contribute to the evolution of reproductive traits in flies. In his postdoctoral research, he hopes to use this work as a novel model for studying the population- and evolutionary genetics of morphological traits.

André spends much of his time outside of the lab in the classroom as a teacher or as a teaching consultant. He has a particularly close relationship with the MIT SEED Academy, a rigorous engineering-based high school enrichment program for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. André considers it his personal reward and priority to work with these students, as they remind him of his excitement for science, and further encourage him to promote curiosity and scholarship.

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Miles Johnson

Miles Johnson

Hometown: Oakland, CA

high school: Lick-Wilmerding

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: Social Studies

Miles Johnson is passionate about everything that he does. Whether leading a discussion in Black Student Union or directing a play, Miles is the type of person who brings out the best in those around him. Through his love of learning and dedication to his interests, Miles has been able to accomplish a number of important things not only for himself, but for his community as a whole.

Described by his peers and teachers as compassionate, intellectual, and a guiding force in many of his classes, Miles prides himself on his ability to succeed in many areas while staying connected to the world around him. His academic success has garnered him the titles of National Achievement Scholar, Ventures Scholar, and National Merit Commended Scholar. The accomplishments that Miles is most proud of, however, stem from his extracurricular activities. Concerned by what he felt was a lack of support for African-American students at his primarily white high school, Miles took it upon himself to restart his school’s dormant Black Student Union. Relying on his experience as Sophomore Class Representative, Student Body Treasurer, and as a Peer Educator to freshmen, Miles dedicates himself to fostering unity and a network of support among the African-Americans at his school. After serving as its President during his junior and senior years, Miles is proud to say that the Black Student Union is one of the strongest organizations at his school, and one that serves an important purpose within his school’s community.

This year marks Miles’ fourth year as a member of his school’s Track and Field team, where he relishes his role as Middle Distance Captain. This year also marks his first foray into the world of directing. After performing in major roles in all four of his school’s fall drama productions, Miles was driven to direct his first play earlier in the year. The joy that comes from being able to guide actors to give their best performances has led Miles to direct a second play this spring. Because of the importance of theater in his own life, Miles has spent a month of each of the past three summers first volunteering and now working at Camp Winnarainbow, a children’s circus and performing arts camp that serves children of all income levels and backgrounds.

Each new experience that Miles has leads him to want to learn, try, and do more in the world. The skills that he has developed have taught him the importance of having diversity in all aspects of one’s life. Involving himself in different types of environments and surrounding himself with different types of people has allowed Miles to view everyone, no matter their appearance or occupation, as unique and multifaceted individuals. He plans to continue to help more children to discover their own creativity through his work in the performing arts, and no matter what his career may end up being, he knows that a central focus will be to help his community to be successful.

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Class of 2004

Miya Cain

Hometown: Miami, FL

high school: Miami Country Day School

college: Yale University

MAJOR: Psychology

Born with club foot, a condition that impairs the use of the feet, Miya Cain has been overcoming an unusual adversity ever since she came into this world. After four corrective surgeries, her feet are no longer twisted in towards each other, but her ankles have limited range of motion. After diligently performing rehabilitating exercises for years, she is now in her fifth year of track and enjoys her status as co-captain. Miya believes that “it is all about working through the pain. It is a blessing to be able to overrule physical weakness with mental strength.”

It is this strength to surmount obstacles that motivates Miya in her daily life. Still, Miya attributes her success to faith in God and people like her family, teachers, and coaches who have supported her throughout her life. She especially gives credit to her mother who she feels has promoted the value of education ever since she was a child

“When my parents got divorced, I watched my mother struggle to continue to provide the best for me and my sister. Her determination has inspired me to strive for the best in everything I do”. Miya takes this commitment to achievement literally. In the top 5% of her class, Miya has been nationally recognized as a National Merit Scholar, a National Achievement Scholar, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Moreover, she was selected from among Florida’s brightest students to participate in The Young Scholar’s Program at Florida State University where for six weeks she participated in college classes and conducted her own research.

For all of her academic prowess, Miya does not limit herself to experience within the classroom; music is an integral part of her life. She plays first violin in her school orchestra and has received superior ratings at several district and state competitions. Furthermore, as a member of the Jubilate Symphony Orchestra, she performed with such celebrities as Andre Crouch and Bobby McFerrin. A singer as well, Miya has a lead female role in her school’s musical production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

School, music, and athletics are all central aspects of Miya’s life; however, Miya is also committed to community service. Nominated for the Silver Knight Award for service in the category of general scholarship, Miya is committed to helping children.

Two years ago, along with several of her peers, Miya initiated a mentoring program for young underprivileged, African American girls in Miami-Dade County. This program, Lighting the Way, was designed to provide a beacon of hope for teenage girls who would benefit from having a mentor. Each week had its own theme: respect, managing money, career choices, and pride for their cultural heritage, to name a few. Although funding for this activity fell through, Miya continues to help children, working as a tutor in a similar program for underprivileged boys, called Right Trak. Moreover, she has been Vice President of the Operation Smile club at her school for three years, organizing fundraisers so that children worldwide can receive correctional surgery for facial deformities. Miya truly believes in the value of service: “Without the blessing of altruism,” she says, “I would never have had the opportunities I’ve been given. For me, giving back to the community is an essential part of life.”

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Class of 2004

Preston Copeland

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

high school: Carver Center for the Arts/Technology

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: German Cultural Studies

Throughout his life, Preston Copeland has embraced challenges as part of the journey towards self-actualization: the full employment of his God-given talents.

Ever since he demonstrated an early gift for reading, Preston has harbored an affinity for all of language’s facets. Perhaps this is why one of Preston’s junior year teachers comments: “I have never had a student who had such a love of language . . . I looked forward to reading his papers not only for the beauty of his language but also because of the strength and originality of his personal voice.”

Preston also loves to learn. Currently the class valedictorian, this year he is taking five AP courses, one of which through independent study. Indeed, his philological pursuits have paid rich dividends: he is an AP Scholar, National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, MD Distinguished Scholar, Venture’s Scholar, has won 1st place in both the MD JCI Senate Scholarship Competition and MD Voice of Democracy Competition, and has received six citations from the Baltimore County Board of Education.

Nevertheless, Preston’s real talent is writing. He is a poet, and is most proud of winning 1st place in the National High School Poetry Contest–his piece was selected out of 30,000 entries from all fifty states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. He won 3rd place in the 2003 National ACTSO competition, and has had “The Worst Thing of All” both published in Poetry.com’s anthology and recorded on The Sound of Poetry, a professional three-CD collection of youth poetry. He was one of thirty-three poets nationwide to receive this honor.

Preston is also a contributor to The Catalyst, the school newspaper, and Synergy, the literary magazine. His commentary “Is Using the N-Word A Crime?” won 1st place in the Baltimore County Creative Writing Contest. He won 3rd place nationally in the Ayn Rand The Fountainhead Essay Contest.

Preston is active in theater, having appeared in eight of his school’s shows. He is also a varsity cross-country and track runner, and received the Coach’s Award for sportsmanship in tenth grade. Incidentally, he is an orator: he won 1st place in the WJZ (a TV station) Black History Month Contest and 1st place in the Baltimore ACTSO competition. He was accepted into the prestigious LEAD Program at Dartmouth and MITE^2S program at MIT, but declined them both to compete in the 2003 National ACTSO Competition for poetry.

However, Preston is driven by service. Ever since he was selected as his school’s representative in the Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Maryland conference and his state’s representative in the HOBY World Leadership Congress, he has been motivated to give back to his community. Hence, last year he founded the HOBY Baltimore County Community Leadership Workshop (CLEW), a one-day seminar that exposes high school sophomores to leadership and volunteerism. As chairperson, he is involved in all aspects of the CLEW’s planning and execution. He also volunteers weekly at the Randallstown Library as a Community Storyteller and for five hours each Sunday at Northwest Hospital. What ultimately motivates him? “The desire to enrich both my life and the lives of others.”

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Class of 2004

Samuel Alemayehu

Hometown: Beltsville, MD

high school: High Point

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering

GRAD. PROGRAM: Stanford University (2008, MS)

Samuel Z. Alemayehu is the Managing Director of Cambridge Group Companies and CEO of Cambridge Industries Energy. He currently leads CGC’s investment efforts in Africa and handles the operation of Cambridge’s renewable energy mission in the continent. Sam is based in the UK and East Africa as he leads CGC’s efforts to introduce innovative technology to address major challenges in emerging markets.

Prior to joining Cambridge, Sam was the founder of 4AFRI Media; a venture backed mobile software start up focused on the African Continent. 4AFRI was funded as the Africa version of 4INFO (www.4info.com) the leading SMS services provider in the US. 4AFRI had offices in both Ethiopia and Cameroon developing mobile-based solutions in entertainment, lottery, health, jobs and many other sectors. 4AFRI had reached over 5million customers in less than a year and produced over 100 applications. Sam also lead the creation of 4AFRI’s subsidiary, Lotophone S.A. in West and Central Africa based on exclusive license to run lottery services on the mobile phone.

Samuel started his professional career in Silicon Valley as a serial entrepreneur as founder of three successful tech ventures before his 23 birthday. Sam started creating companies while presuming his education at Stanford University to address various challenges. He was an Associate at Venrock Associates (Rockefeller Family Venture Firm) investing in consumer media and mobile applications. 4AFRI was initially incubated at Venrock but was funded independently by a consortium of investors including SpringHill Equity and leading angel investor Josh Mailman. Sam has worked in various countries in Africa including Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal, Mali, Algeria, DRC, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and South Africa.

After 4AFRI Sam joined Cambridge Group Companies and help lead the creation of Cambridge Industries Ltd, now a subsidiary of DP Cleantech Ltd. (www.dpcleantech.com) to develop and construct waste-to-energy and biomass plants in Africa.  Currently he is overseeing the construction of a 50MWe waste-to-energy facility in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the development of facilities in Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal and Djibouti. The innovations at CIL – DPCT has made it possible to expand modern Waste-to-Energy technology to emerging markets disposing municipal and agricultural waste in an environmentally friendly way. CIL plans to build over 1,000MW of waste and biomass fired facilities in Africa before 2020.

Sam is an expert on technology investments and development of renewable energy projects in emerging markets with emphasise in waste-to-energy and Biomass. Following the successful merger of Cambridge Industries Ltd with DP Cleantech; Sam is currently leading Cambridge’s development of large-scale wind farms in Africa as part of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative.  Cambridge Industries Energy in partnership with General Electric Inc. and LAFTO Turbine Technologies is in the final stages of preparation to commence the construction of 310MW Wind Farm in Aysha, Ethiopia. The wind farm facility when completed will constitute over 10% of Power Africa’s stated goal for Africa and introduce a world-class wind facility in East Africa.

Mr. Alemayehu was a Ron Brown Scholar in 2004 and alumni of Stanford’s School of Engineering.

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Class of 2004

Sharlene Brown

Hometown: Bronx, NY

high school: DeWitt Clinton

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: Social Studies

GRAD. PROGRAM: University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School (2014, MBA)

Raised in a bi-cultural home, Sharlene celebrates the rhythms and teachings of her Jamaican and Dominican backgrounds. Realizing that two islands’-worth of hearts have invested much love in her upbringing, Sharlene strives to learn and grow. She gathers knowledge with the intention of one day giving back to the community that shaped and strengthened her character. Sharlene has confronted many negative reactions from strangers who dismiss the Bronx as a dark alley, but regardless, she shines light on the many brilliant diamonds hidden in the rough. She was given a chance to radiate positive energy and simply wants to “return the favor,” she claims.

A student at DeWitt Clinton High School, Sharlene is the Class of 2004 salutatorian, president of the ARISTA Honor Society and a runner on the Girls’ Track and Cross Country Team. Her myriad interests are evident in her extra-curricular involvements, for she participated in the Con Edison Biology Team, debates on the Student Advisory Council, volunteers in her local soup kitchen and constantly thinks of innovative projects for her school. Volunteering is the most fulfilling of Sharlene’s activities, and she encourages young people to experience the euphoria service stirs in the soul. In a matter of weeks Sharlene coordinated the most successful toy drive a Bronx inner-city high school has seen in years. “The long hours and many missed lunches were worth it,” Sharlene says. “I would do it all again for just one more smile on a child’s face.”

Sharlene has also sought means to expand herself beyond the walls of DeWitt Clinton. She has actively participated in various science programs such as NASA MASTER where she was exposed to the vast world of anatomy and physics, SPREP at Columbia University where she witnessed the many painstaking breakthroughs of the medical community, and Summer Research at Villanova University, where she conducted an extensive research project on life expectancies for urban minorities. Sharlene’s thirst for knowledge knows no boundaries.

From an early age Sharlene has appreciated those who have nurtured her. She is grateful to all her teachers and coaches who have not only served as educators, but as mentors in her life. She experienced the hardships of teaching first hand through Junior Achievement, a program which granted her the opportunity to be a teacher to an entire class of second graders for a day. Her feet ached and she was smeared with finger paint, but had a brilliant smile on her face.

Sharlene has been honored as an Open Doors Theatre Scholar, was awarded an African-American Certificate of Merit, and is a HOBY ambassador, a Ventures Scholar and a Take the Lead! Woman Leader. In addition, she is also a Bridge to Berlin Ambassador, an honor which will give her the opportunity to travel Germany this spring.

Abiding by her school’s philosophy, “sin labore nihil,” literally “without labor nothing,” Sharlene continues to persevere, defy all stereotypes and to even all odds through her charm, strong belief in charity and drive to succeed.

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Class of 2004

Tariq Dixon

Hometown: Laurel, MD

high school: Laurel

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: Government

Coming from humble beginnings, Tariq was instilled with the virtues of gratitude, selflessness, and conviction very early in life. As one of three children raised by a single-parent, he was forced to confront obstacles that most people would consider premature for his age. However, with growth and maturity, Tariq has learned to embrace each trying experience as a challenge—none too arduous for him to conquer.

Tariq has proven the benefits of hard work and determination by excelling academically throughout grade school and high school. In 2004, he graduated as the top-ranked student of a class of 405, and as a recipient of the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Tariq was been named an AP Scholar, a National Achievement Scholar, and a Horatio Alger National Scholar. Tariq was equally committed to several activities outside of the academic setting as well. In addition to holding a part-time job all for years of high school, he also served as both Vice-President and President of his school’s Student Government Association, and as a member of the National Honors Society, National Art Honors Society, the Marching Band and his school’s Mock Trial Team. Tariq also swam for his school’s varsity swim team, and was named to the Academic All-American team his senior year.

Innately reserved and soft-spoken as a child, Tariq has used the many opportunities that his school and community have afforded him to develop attributes of a very promising leader. He attended the Maryland Association of Student Councils Leadership Conference and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference where he participated in various seminars, which helped to strengthen his public speaking and leadership skills. During the summer of 2003, Tariq also participated in the LEAD Program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The program introduced him to the different aspects of business careers, and as result, Tariq still strongly considers a career in financial services industry.

Tariq is currently a student at Harvard University, concentrating in Social Studies, with a focus in Developing Societies. Upon entering college, Tariq has maintained an equally strong commitment to both academics and his greater school community. He is actively involved in several student organizations on campus including, ranging from cultural organizations, to student publications, to community service groups. Although Tariq does hope to one day obtain a respectable career and financial security, he also realizes the obligations he has towards the community that has helped him in so many ways. Tariq recognizes the contributions that many people have made towards his life, and he lives to create the same positive effect each day.

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