Seondre Carolina'15, recipient of the Martin Luther King School Program scholarship at Ithaca College and a member of YLOKC stated, "The MLK Program at Ithaca College was based on involvement with community service, leadership, and academics.
Through my involvement with Youth Lead OKC, YAC and the countless other organizations that I have worked with through them gave me an edge when applying to the program. There were 300 applicants, 30 were invited and flown out to the campus to interview and participate in some activities. Afterwards 15 were chosen to enter the program. Through my interview I talked about my involvement with Youth LEAD and YAC which sparked a conversation that outlasted some of the other interviews.
Doing community service while always good for others will also benefit you by making you a better leader, a better person, and give you those important connections that you may need one day. Those connections helped me land into a program that lets me travel the globe researching social issues, and better understand the true complexity of the world while also receiving a $47,000 scholarship to attend Ithaca College in New York."
Youth LEAD OKC
Founding Students Graduate
Four years ago, as a shy freshman, Sidney J.'15 eagerly accepted the task to establish a teen exploratory board to consider the need and interest of creating a unique cultural competency program for our community. Because of her dedication, insight and determination, Oklahoma City now has one of the only programs in the Midwest to inspire and mobilize youth leaders to reflect upon their values and beliefs, connect with others across differences, and act together to address local and global challenges.
This unique program is called Youth LEAD (Leaders Engaging Across Differences) and literally only exists because of Sidney and three other students, Sam K.'15, Dane N. and Serene K. Mercy School/EdmondSanta Fe, from across our city. Serene graduates next year.
Establishing a program based on ideas that are generated, executed and completely led by youth is a difficult task. Sidney, Sam and Dane stuck through the challenging times when it seemed like the program would remain a simple idea instead of becoming the multifaceted program that it is today. They continued to recruit students to help launch the program when other teens dropped off from the planning team because it required a lot of time, effort and critical thinking. Their steadfast attitude even kept the adult directors motivated to see the program through during the most difficult times when it seemed we would not find local funding or support.
After four years of hard work and commitment, Youth LEAD is now a robust program of students from many diverse Oklahoma City metro high schools, representing a multitude of races, religions, beliefs and interests. Sidney, San and Dane thrive in the group and got along well with any teenager that joined. Thanks to the YLOKC founding teenrs caring nature and dedication to diversity, Oklahoma City has a premier cultural competency and diversity education program that will enhance youth and their ideals for generations to come.
By Shannon Presti, CEO, Youth Lead OKC, YMCA Youth Initiatives