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Class of 2010

Justin Bullock

Hometown: Detroit, MI

high school: Renaissance HS

college: MIT

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle

For Renaissance High School senior, Justin Bullock, achieving excellence is not just an act, it is a habit. Justin, the third of three children, was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Justin is a shining example of what one can achieve with hard work. A man of many passions, Justin excels in a multitude of activities. He is the valedictorian of his high school class, maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout his career at Renaissance High School. Justin has also achieved the distinction of being named a National Achievement Finalist. In 2009, Justin spent seven weeks at Princeton University with the LEDA Scholars Program and their Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute.

Outside of academics, Justin is the captain of his high school’s cross country and track teams. In addition to being named All-City and All-Region in both sports, Justin was the individual champion in the 2009 Detroit Public Schools Cross Country City Championship, naming him the top cross country runner in the city of Detroit. In 2009, his high school team also won the team city championship for the first time in school history. Furthermore, Justin is a dedicated and skilled member of his school’s science quiz bowl team. He has played an integral role in his team placing first at their Regional Science Quiz Bowl meet in 2009 and 2010, which allows his team to compete in the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl Competition in Washington D.C..

Outside of personal extracurricular activities, Justin actively engages in the community around him. He is a peer tutor in mathematics and science. All of Justin‘s peers know that if they ever need help with a class, they can come and ask him for help. Justin also actively gives back to Generation of Promise. He is an alum to the yearlong program in Detroit that breaks down racial, cultural, and economic barriers between urban and suburban students in one of the most racially polarized cities in the entire nation. Justin is the treasurer of his high school class.

All of Justin’s achievements have not come without Justin’s fair share of obstacles, in 2002, Justin’s father was incarcerated, and although the two still maintain a relationship, the situation undoubtedly has put some emotional strain on Justin. Nevertheless, with the help of stout support from family and friends, especially his mother, Justin is determined to break the statistical cycle for African Americans with a parent in prison.

Many of his teachers boast that Justin has a insatiable thirst for knowledge and is a steadfast hard worker. Justin admits that he may not be the most talented academically or athletically, but has achieved his success through hard work. Justin truly believes that nothing can stop him from achieving his goals. While in college, he plans to pursue a degree in chemical or biomedical engineering and then go on to medical school.

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Class of 2010

Charday Adams

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

high school: Grant Union HS

college: University of Southern California

MAJOR: English

Charday Ife Adams wasn’t born in a typical manner or on a typical day. She entered this world in the back of an ambulance on the 29th day of February, born to be extraordinary.

Outspoken and opinionated by nature, her elementary school teachers told her she would one day become a successful lawyer. But, as she grew older, Charday realized her calling was elsewhere. As a teen she began to use her voice for other purposes, becoming a well-respected spoken word artist in the Sacramento area. Using her poetry as a vehicle for social change she spoke on the inequities in public education before a variety of audiences, including at Harvard, the University of California, and benefactors of the prestigious Crocker Art Museum.

However, Charday is by no means detached from her community. She hails from Sacramento’s underprivileged, but culturally rich Del Paso Heights. It is here she can be found hosting open mics, organizing writing workshops, and in local urban schools representing and presenting the organization she co-founded, Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS). Charday was recently offered and accepted the position as a member of the Board of Directors for SAYS, where she serves as the Student Outreach Coordinator, making sure that inner city youth have a platform upon which they can express themselves and, in the process, hone their writing, speaking, and performance skills. Her role in this organization includes her participation in professional development seminars that instruct credentialed teachers in the integration of spoken word, and other elements of hip-hop, into classroom instruction. Using her own research, she overcame a teacher’s low expectations and was the first at her school to earn a 4 on an AP history exam.

In addition to her work promoting literacy and culturally responsive teaching throughout the Sacramento region, Charday is the founding president of her school’s chapter of SAYS, student representative for the School Site Council, member of M.E.S.A. and the M.E.S.L. Honors Academy and has earned honor roll status for four years. Recent honors include being selected as the Elk’s Lodge Student of the Month, and her school’s representative at both the African-American Youth Leadership Program and the Northern California Youth Leadership Seminar. She won the North Sacramento Rotary Club Speech Contest, was crowned the champion of Sacramento Area Youth Speaks first annual Teen Poetry Competition, and is currently a member of Sacramento’s National Teen Slam team. Charday has experienced tremendous success as an athlete , including running varsity track since her freshman year and earning the title of League Champion a total of 4 times in her high school career.

In the fall of 2010, Charday plans to enter college studying English, education, and film. Ultimately, she will become a screenwriter, creating films and documentaries that capture the educational experiences of inner city youth. She plans to dedicate her heart, soul, and life to educational reform, creating and supporting grassroots organizations geared toward helping underprivileged youth find their voices and creating venues for those voices to be heard.

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Class of 2010

Rashawn Dye

Hometown: Spring Valley, NY

high school: Ramapo Senior HS

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: International Relations

The product of a selfless mother and grandparents who taught him to keep God first, Rashawn was blessed with a strong support system. The oldest of four with his father in prison, he knew at an early age that he had to set standards for his siblings. After receiving a stormy and turbulent forecast of his future from his second grade teacher, Rashawn was determined to prove the doubtful wrong. Since then, he has embarked on an academic crusade, having maintained outstanding grades throughout elementary and middle school. During his freshman year, his mother moved the growing family out of his grandparent’s apartment into a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. The fiscal woes that his family faced didn’t daunt him, however. In fact, Rashawn was motivated to seek work at the age of 14 and has since held a job as Head Youth Tutor at the local Community Action Partnership in his neighborhood, where he speaks Spanish to tutor the children of immigrant families. Although work required a lot of energy, Rashawn’s grades skyrocketed. In a high school that has a quorum of African-American students, he’s the only Black male in the National Honor Society and the highest ranked African-American in his graduating class, being 3rd out of 351 students. Rashawn is an AP Scholar with Distinction, QuestBridge National College Prep and Match finalist, National Geographic Student Expeditions scholar and People to People Student Ambassadors Scholarship recipient. As a junior, he attended math and science classes at Columbia University’s SPREP Program on weekends and as a senior, he has taken courses via Syracuse University and SUNY Albany. His endeavors have earned him a spot on his school’s competitive Academic League team, which has been invited to compete in a televised academic decathlon, called “The Challenge,” against over 200 schools in New York’s tri-state area.

Rashawn’s academic successes have led him to proposing a mentoring initiative for his school that would involve seniors mentoring freshmen. Holding student government positions for every year of high school, Rashawn has proven to be an accomplished leader in his community.

Rashawn owes his leadership qualities to his opportunities to travel to Europe in 2007 as a Student Ambassador and to Tanzania with National Geographic in 2009. He considers his experience in Tanzania life-changing; having worked with AIDS orphans, installed a water pipe in an agricultural village, camped in the middle of the savannah and being made an honorary chief by a Maasai ruler, this experience was a time of self-reflection and growth. Rashawn serves as President of Student Government, Vice-President of Model UN and is actively involved in a plethora of other activities. Rashawn is contemplating a major in International Relations to fulfill his passion for diplomacy. However, he realizes that he must first serve as a diplomat from the adversity-soiled streets he hails from to the upper echelons of society that await him in his future. A life of progress isn’t worth living if one doesn’t return back to serve those who have yet to rise.

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Class of 2010

Ubah Dimbil

Hometown: Los Gatos, CA

high school: Westmont HS

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: Biology

Live, love, laugh. Inscribed in rusting black metal, these three compelling words changed Ubah Jimale Dimbil’s outlook on life from the moment she discovered the plaque handing on a wall of her new apartment in the Bay Area. Drained from a grueling day of self-inflicted math examinations, Somali lessons, and Qur’an recitations, a nine year old Ubah quickly regained her usual excitement as silently repeated the pleasing mantra until the words seemed to flow together. Amazed, Ubah recognized that no three words could better encapsulate her entire life. Today, nearly a decade later, she believes no different.

Live. Whether climbing to the top of a mountain or falling on her way down, Ubah has always lived life with no regrets, continuously attempting to reach the pinnacle of her success. In spite of the years spent in English Language Development classes as a child to better her speech, Ubah quickly caught up with her peers. Admittedly, the years she spent hunched over novels at the crack of dawn under the watchful eye of her strict father paid off as she now has well over a 4.0, is in the running to become a valedictorian of her graduating class, and has received a number of awards commemorating her academic triumph during both the school year, and the following summer months. Hoping to one day receive a degree in medicine, Ubah seizes opportunity in life to make her wish a reality, and therefore signs up for science programs during her leisure months hoping to gain a greater understanding of her career choice.

Love. Because she adores her Islamic religion, Ubah joined a local youth group early in middle school where she helped plan a fashion show to build a school in Sierra Leone, donated funds to support an orphan girl in India, and, as the head of the Social Chair Committee, organized dances for young Muslim girls to safely attend. In addition to providing her with chances to positively impact her community, Ubah’s religion provided her at an early age with an awareness of discrimination’s bearing on young students. Because of her cultural and spiritual differences, insensitive students ridiculed Ubah in both elementary and middle school. Hoping to protect those in similar situations, Ubah joined organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People where she serves as the Head of Publicity and the Vice President of the youth council in her region, and the Anti-Defamation League, to help to secure a safe and treasured environment for her community members by completing a series of activities with her peers in order to promote not only tolerance, but also acceptance.

Laugh. Through her positive outlook on life, Ubah tends to focus on the optimistic aspects of life rather than reflect negatively on the bad. Even though she continues to hear monthly news about deaths of family members due to the chaotic situation of her parents’ native country, Somalia, Ubah understands that everything happens for a reason, and endlessly spends her time honing both her academic and leadership skills so that she can help those less fortunate to enjoy life as well.

Now as the college looms closer, Ubah will soon move her aging plaque to a new resting home at Stanford University where she will major in biology, and always remember to live, love, and laugh.

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Class of 2010

Maya Torain

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

high school: Catonsville HS

college: Yale University

MAJOR: Pre-Med

The youngest of three girls growing up in Baltimore, MD, Maya Torain learned from an early age the value of rising beyond set expectations. Deeming them all “smart, pretty girls,” her mother instilled in her daughters a pride in being intelligent, strong women that Maya has carried throughout her life, in and out of the classroom. Though very shy as a child, she has pushed through the boundaries introversion once set for her, striving to get her voice heard.

Maya has never shied away from a challenge, determined to settle for nothing less than her ultimate potential. She has excelled in rigorous academic classes, climbing to the top 5% of her class and receiving the distinction of being a National Achievement Finalist and AP Scholar with Honor. Maya is also an active member of the National, Spanish, and Math Honor Societies. However, in this path to success, she often found herself in the position of being one of the few African-Americans in her classes. This disparity in minority achievement has fueled Maya’s efforts to give back, to pass down to other students of color the opportunities that have been afforded to her. She is determined to live according to the words of her namesake, Maya Angelou: “You shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Along with being a volunteer tutor, she serves as the student coordinator of the Rising Scholars mentoring program at Catonsville High School, helping minority underclassmen with their academic and social development.

Attending middle school in a predominately Jewish area, Maya became aware early of the strained relations between the black and Jewish communities. As a firm believer in the power of diversity, she looked beyond habitual judgments and tried to convince her classmates to do the same. Concern for this issue drew her to the goals of the Elijah Cummings Youth Program. She was chosen as one of ten teens to engage in a two-year leadership program aiming to help foster positive relations between the different ethic groups that compose the diverse city of Baltimore. With the ECYP, Maya embarked on a life-changing, four-week trip to the culturally rich country of Israel. Among many other lessons, she took from the experience the fundamental notion that we are all more alike than we are different.

Introduced to sports by her supportive father at a young age, Maya defines herself as a true student-athlete. She is a three sport varsity athlete, with a passion for basketball and track and field. Maya has earned three State Championship titles in track and field, including one individual gold in high jump. Her record-breaking 1600m relay team placed third in the nation in 2008, earning her All-American honors. Maya is a three-year starter on her varsity basketball team, which has won back-to-back-to-back County Championships. Hoping to continue her athletic career in college, she accredits sports with teaching her the invaluable lessons of teamwork, selflessness, and determination.

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Class of 2010

Joshua Sibblies

Hometown: Windsor, CT

high school: Univ. HS of Science and Engineering

college: MIT

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering

Joshua Sibblies has always been curious. Most of the stories of his childhood involve him tinkering with something: taking apart all the remote controls in the house and trying, with varying success, to put them back together; mixing different soaps and powders together just to see what would happen; building contraptions out of K’NEX and throwing them out of the top floor window to see if they would survive the landing. He didn’t necessarily care about the results; the thrill of learning new things was what drove him, and that stuck with him throughout his entire life.

In high school, he took only the most challenging courses, and by the end of his senior year he will have amassed thirty-six college credits. He has been published by the Oxford University Press in Harvard University’s African-American National Biography, and he has already been notified of his early acceptance into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although school has always been his first priority, he also has several passions including the bass guitar, track and field, jazz music, Science Bowl, volunteering with the National Honor Society, and his school’s literary magazine, Writer’s Bloc.

In the summer of 2009, he traveled to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to participate in the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program. There, he took part in the most difficult classes and excelled in all of them, earning the Edna and Leon Trilling Award for Overall Academic Excellence. Spending his summer at MITES was not just a life changing experience— it also affirmed his belief that education was the key to personal success. This also helped him realize that a community that doesn’t value education is doomed to failure.

Through volunteering as a tutor both with the National Honor Society and on his own, Joshua realized that many of his peers did not share his opinion of the importance of education. He was ridiculed by his peers for his desire to learn, and although at times he was tempted to give up, he stayed firm in his belief that education was essential to life. Most of these peers struggled academically when they were young, developed a dislike of school, and now risk not graduating from high school. If someone had been there to encourage them to learn, like Joshua’s mother did with him, they might not be facing the problems they have today.

A combination of all of these factors has made it Joshua’s goal to establish educational programs like those of his role model, Geoffrey Canada, who has virtually closed the achievement gap between black and white students in Harlem, New York. It is Joshua’s firm belief that without reform in the current education system, America’s youth will be left behind in the wake of a rapidly advancing world and he refuses to let this happen.

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Class of 2010

Melanie Newell

Hometown: Sallis, MS

high school: McAdams HS

college: Washington University-St. Louis

MAJOR: Neuroscience

When Melanie was younger, her father told her that she could one day go to Harvard, and that despite the odds, she could be successful in whatever field she desired.

Growing up in a rural community and conditionally poor home with five siblings and attending an under funded public school became more of a motivation for Melanie than an excuse. She used her surroundings as a constant reminder that she could and should be an example. Even after her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, costing him his job and forcing her mother back into the workplace, Melanie stepped up in the household, taking on motherly responsibilities while still maintaining her academic and extracurricular involvements. She wanted to set the precedent for possibilities, and she was determined to show others that opportunities were available if the effort was put forth.

Melanie is well-known as an active force in her community, especially in the local Boys’ and Girls’ Club, where she has held the prestigious title of Youth of the Year for three consecutive years.; she also represented well in the state Youth of the Year competition, placing as 2nd Runner-Up State Youth of the Year 2009. As Youth of the Year, Melanie not only is the representative of the club and the motivation of the younger members; she also speaks throughout the community, promoting the mission of the club while gaining experience and exposure. At the BGC, Melanie is an avid volunteer, tutor, and member of several clubs and organizations; one such organization is the Keystone Club, the leading teen advice and community service group. A member of the BGC for nine years, since it opened in 2001, Melanie has used the club as a place to grow and build and is now also a mentor to youth in the club and community.

A National Merit Finalist and Scholar and member of the National Honor Society, Melanie has also excelled academically throughout her school years, beginning in elementary by earning a reputation as a straight-A student. She has yet to lose this reputation. Furthermore, Melanie is well involved in her school as a member of the Beta Club; Chess Team; High School Marching and Concert Band; Varsity softball, volleyball, and basketball teams; a tutor; and the “smart girl” of the school, nicknamed “Harvard” by her peers and voted “Most Likely to Succeed in the Medical Field” by her Medical Technology instructor.

Melanie is looking forward to attending Washington University in St. Louis in the fall to major in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) with a minor in Mathematics. She aspires to become a successful neurosurgeon, inspired by her father’s recent illness, and continue to be an active force in the community regardless to where her life’s journey takes her.

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Class of 2010

Lyric McHenry

Hometown: Santa Monica, CA

high school: Marlborough School

college: Stanford University

MAJOR: Pre-Law

One definition of the word lyric reads “having the form and musical quality of a song.” Lyric McHenry’s life is a very eclectic song. She loves hip-hop, especially Lupe Fiasco; however her iPod is also filled with the Alternative Rufus Wainwright. Her best and truest friends are the people who she seemingly has the least in common with. Her family is divided due to divorce: one side is overwhelmingly large such that Lyric meets new relatives frequently, while the other operates on a much smaller scale, yet still contains the same resilient love and support. Everything from her music to her interests to her family life is different, but somehow ends up being perfectly harmonious.

When Lyric was twelve years old she competed in her first Speech and Debate Tournament having minimal experience and training. However, at the end of the day, Lyric was named First Place Speaker of the entire tournament. Since then, Lyric could not pull herself away from her interest in leadership, politics and social justice. She took her passion beyond school when she decided to spend her summer before junior year interning at the Obama for America Southern California, where she planned and worked on numerous fundraisers in Los Angeles, which raised the most money for the campaign of any city in California. Lyric, at only 15 years old, worked for the campaign throughout her summer and until November 4th with adults and college students. That summer, was not only a seminal moment for America, but also marked the most inspiring and meaningful experiences in Lyric’s life.

Lyric is consistently an Honor Roll and Head of School’s List student and strives to pursue her academia with intellectual vitality and curiosity rather than with the pursuit of a high grade. She is an extremely passionate History and English student with interests varying from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy to South African writer J.M. Coetzee. During her junior year, Lyric founded the Young Democrats Club, a vehicle for all students to get involved in the political sphere. She has been active in the dramatic arts since her youth having participated in many theater productions. However, perhaps most illustrative of her passion and talent was her selection to join the Drama Ensemble, the school’s elite drama group.

Beyond her various artistic, athletic and academic achievements lies a unique brand of leadership often fueled by her deep passion for social justice and desire to improve society. Since the age of eleven she has worked for the non-profit organization Artists For A New South Africa, helping to improve post-apartheid South African society through combating HIV/AIDS and empowering South African youth.

As a young person, one of Lyric’s chief concerns is the lack of motivation among youth to involve themselves in their communities and the broader national and global communities. It is through her own interest and pursuit of social justice that she hopes to motivate her peers to empower themselves through creating change, despite their age.

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Class of 2010

Javaughn Lawrence

Hometown: Coral Springs, FL

high school: Deerfield Beach HS

college: Yale University

MAJOR: Economics and Sociology

Javaughn is an investor at Eniac Ventures, a seed stage venture capital firm. Eniac Ventures is a $100m fund that investors in audacious entrepreneurs building the future with technology; it’s portfolio includes Airbnb, Soundcloud, Boxed and Anchor. In his role, he sources, diligences and acts as a board observer for some of Eniac’s portfolio companies. His primarily investment areas include artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and emerging markets. For his work, he’s been recognized as HBCU.vc’s 31 under 31 in Venture Capital. 

Prior to Eniac Ventures, Javaughn worked in strategy and operations at Linkedin; while at Linkedin, he co-founded one of the largest monthly conferences (now at 5000 members) focused on machine learning. His first job after college was as a management consultant at Bain & Company, where he provided analytical insights to Fortune 500 executives in retail, telecom, and defense. 

Javaughn is 2010 Ron Brown Scholar. He graduated from Yale where he studied economics and statistics. He credits his time at Yale and Ron Brown with not only giving him the right mental models and nurturing to thrive but also the freedom to explore new ideas and create outside the classroom. Part of this freedom allowed him to co-found 3 start-ups while at Yale in foreign affairs broadcasting, textbook trading and e-commerce. He lives in San Francisco, where he enjoys long bike rides, playing board games and hosting friends for dinner parties. 

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Danai Kadzere

Danai Kadzere

Hometown: Greensboro, NC

high school: Phillips Exeter Academy

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: Biology

Danai is an undergraduate student at Harvard University, concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology. An aspiring neurosurgeon, Danai has conducted research at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine as a participant in the Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program, as well as carried out a full-time internship in an Intensive Care Unit in a hospital in northwestern Germany. In addition to science, Danai enjoys politics, literature, and community service, among others. She volunteers as part of Harvard’s Cancer Society and Harvard College Stories for Orphans, and is highly motivated to succeed and help others succeed.

In the first 18 years of her life, Danai’s achievements include advancing in the USA Biology Olympiad two years in a row, earning the National Achievement Scholarship, graduating Cum Laude from Phillips Exeter Academy (where she received the Philip M. Bitman Prize for General Excellence in Science), interning in under Senator Tim Johnson in the US Senate, and having a manuscript advance in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. She looks forward to what the next 18 years will bring.

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