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Congratulations to the 2023 JACA Scholarship Recipients 

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Tayna Braithwaite

Tayna Braithwaite is a recent graduate of Cox Mill High School. She has attended Rowan Community College for multiple college courses, was Vice President of the Black Student Union, Founder and CEO of Minority Girls United, Aerie Brand Ambassador and Customer Service Representative, Community Dog Sitter, Carolina Juniors Volleyball Youth Coach, Hostess at Afton Tavern Pub and Pizza, Operation Smile, National Science Honor Society and National Art Honor Society. She accomplished this while maintaining a weighted GPA of 4.25. Tayna was raised as the child of immigrant parents from the Caribbean.  Her parents immigrated to the USA to give their children better educational and socio-economic opportunities. This has helped to mold her core values and made her aware of the plight of immigrants. The importance and priorities her parents have placed on education have resulted in her hard work at school. It has propelled her towards a major in political science at Howard University and eventually a career as an immigration lawyer. She fully understands the immigrant experience and would like to assist incoming ones to navigate the system. Her referees concur that she has strong leadership skills, is a role model, and has great time management skills. Tayna has been credited with motivating young children with continuing to pursue their passions and educating them on the power of their voices and opinions.

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Deborah Cathcart

Deborah Cathcart is a recent graduate of Hickory Ridge High School with a weighted GPA of 3.9. One of Deborah’s teachers described her as follows: “Deborah consistently demonstrates many qualities that set her apart from the average student. She’s highly motivated, very demanding of herself, and is a role model for her peers”. Deborah has been accepted to and plans to attend Fayetteville State University in North Carolina in the fall of 2023, majoring in Criminal Justice.  During High School, Deborah had several volunteer and leadership experiences.  For example, she participated in the Beloved Community Leadership Academy as a student where she was introduced to the Kingian Philosophy of non-violence.  She was also a Student Ambassador at the Academy of Goal Achievers.  Deborah was a member of the Speech and Debate Team at her school and a member of the National Technical Honor Society.  She writes and speaks intermediate-level Japanese.  Deborah Plans to further her studies in social justice as one of her career goals is to become a U.S. Marshall. She believes that having self-control, sharing love, and expressing understanding are non-violent characteristics she will need to execute this job.

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Carlin Collins

Carlin Collins is a recent graduate of Mallard Creek High School. She is passionate about sports management and would like to be a head event coordinator for the NFL or NBA. Carlin will attend North Carolina Central University to major in Recreation Administration Sports Management and minor in business and possibly Spanish. She knows it takes grit and perseverance to excel academically while networking. Carlin would like to give back to the community by motivating other young people who need guidance. She is realizing some of her goals as she is involved in Crisis Assistant Ministry, 2nd Harvest Food Bank, Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Volunteer Ministry, Northside Volunteer Ministry, Gastonia Salvation Army, Atrium Hospitality House, and is a swimming instructor. She is also fluent in Spanish. She did this while maintaining a weighted GPA of 3.61. One of Carlin’s teachers states that she is a stellar student who grasps concepts quickly and well.  She is involved in competitive sports at a high level and has shown leadership skills as the captain of her volleyball team. This was seconded by another of her teachers who also added that Carlin is altruistic and very self-motivated.

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Zaliyah Emmanuel 

Zaliyah Emmanuel is a recent graduate of Charlotte Christian School with a weighted GPA of 3.7.  One of Zaliyah’s first jobs was being a Resident Camp Counselor. Having been a camper herself, that experience gave her the self-confidence needed to connect with the 9th & 10th graders she guided.  Her high school college counselor said this about her, “ Zaliyah chooses to impact the lives of younger students by working as a camp counselor. She loves kids and sees this as an opportunity to make a difference.  She reflects on her own growth from being a camper”.  Based on her work, Zaliyah received recognition from both the campers and the camp leaders for her nurturing care of others, helping them acclimate and engage so they’d get the most out of the program. Zaliyah shared that as a student of Caribbean descent, she was inspired by the wisdom her Great Grandmother passed to her. Specifically, her Great Grandmother told her, ”The best thing you can do is to get a good education and make your mark in the world”. Zaliyah has been accepted to and plans to attend Spellman College in the fall of 2023. She plans to study documentary filmmaking.  When she graduates from college, she plans to honor her Great Grandmother’s legacy by being a change agent, and filmmaker documenting and sharing the untold stories of people of color. 

Destiny Gibbons 

Destiny Gibbons is a recent graduate of Northside Christian Academy. She has participated in the National Youth Leadership Forum, Medicine at George Mason College, UNCC Leadership Camp, Class Secretary and Vice President, Vice President of the student body, Coach Volleyball, Principal Honor Roll, Girl Scout Silver Award, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society and President’s Education Awards Program. She has completed over two hundred (200) community service hours while maintaining her weighted GPA of 4.02. Destiny would like to become an obstetrician/gynecologist. She believes it’s very important to add more black women doctors to this field. Volunteering and giving back to the community is important to her as she witnessed this from her immigrant parents and also the people of Barbados whenever she visits. Destiny has been aligning her activities towards her future goal as student body vice president, attending youth leadership forums on medicine and coaching volleyball to young students. The fact that she will take her extracurricular activities, her culture and experiences into her medical career to assist others without knowing them is exciting to her as she emulates her parents. She will commence her journey at North Carolina A&T University. Destiny’s two references had the common thread that she is a natural leader, who has combined that with her love and compassion for people. It is said that she has an innate tenacity that allows her to commit to extracurricular activities while excelling academically. 

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Claire Hjardemaal

Claire Hjardemaal is a recent graduate of Mallard Creek High School. She is a proud Haitian American who would like to make an indelible impact on society by advocating for marginalized groups and serving as an example. She would like to pursue a major in the humanities in conjunction with her desire to become a doctor and venture into holistic medical care. Claire has attended several summer intensive programs since middle school to keep her on her trajectory in medicine. She is involved with the YMCA, Food Runner Trainer, Women’s Tennis, Camp Intervention Counselor in training, Tutoring (Kumon-after school), Friendship Trays Volunteer, Positivity for Patients Vice President, and Student Council. She has maintained a weighted GPA of 4.56 despite her busy schedule. Claire plans to be a medical provider who has her patients’ best interests at heart. She will commence the next phase of her journey at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  “Claire Hjardemaal is an incredible young lady with a passion for education. She fights for what she believes in and searches for opportunities to better herself” states her guidance counselor. It was also stated that she strategically selected courses for academic rigor. She has also been described as a servant leader, who has a heart for helping others and a compassion and willingness to serve.Nursing.

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Anya Huggins 

Anya Huggins is a recent graduate of Fort Mill High School with a weighted GPA of 5.1.  Over her High School Career, Anya has had a wide range of experiences and accomplishments.  She has consistently received the A Honor Roll Certificate for students with all A’s; Acceptance into Wake Forest College Launch – a pre-college program; selected for the United States Department of State’s Youth Ambassadors Program and in 2023 Donna Helton Mock Trial Award, just to name a few.  Anya has also written a review of the book Treating Black Women with Eating Disorders: A Clinician’s Guide by Small and Fuller. Her review was published on the UNC School of Social Work’s website. The research focused on Reducing Excessive Eating. Anya has served as the first Afro-Caribbean student body president of the High School she attended. She’s particularly proud of this as she represented her Caribbean heritage. Anya has been accepted to and plans to attend Wake Forest University in the fall of 2023.  Her future career path is to become an attorney.  She shared, “Being an attorney would allow me to advocate for many people, including those with Caribbean heritage”. One of Anya’s teachers had this to say about her, “ She has participated in numerous community service projects. Although these activities require many hours outside of the school day and on weekends, Anya has never allowed them to interfere with her studies.  Anya serves as an advisory board member for York County Teen Science Café sponsored by the York County Library.  She also was co-founder of Palmetto Reads, a summer reading program for children who attend the Palmetto School that is located at the Children’s Attention Home in Rock Hill for abused and neglected children.  Anya is a well-rounded student”.

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Chama Kabwe

Chama Kabwe recently graduated from Charlotte Christian Upper School. She has been involved in several extracurricular activities throughout her high school tenure. She has spent over ten years in volleyball, soccer, and track and field. Chama is very proud of her Jamaican and African heritage which have spurred her interest in traveling. She intends to travel the world and use that acquired knowledge to help otherwise obscure companies market their products. She believes that it will give people the opportunities to showcase their talents or business acumen so that they will be exposed internationally. She developed this interest just by going to her parents’ homelands and traveling with them. This has influenced her to major in the international business program at Howard University. Chama is a member of the National Honor Society, Honor Roll 9-12th grade, volunteered at Forest Hill Baby Nursery, was ranked 28th in a National French competition, and worked customer service at Green Brothers Juice and Smoothie Company. Her passion is sports and she has demonstrated her athleticism in volleyball, soccer, and track and field. Chama gives back to the community every opportunity she gets, no matter the capacity, and has conducted volleyball summer camps and soccer clubs.  One of her referees said “She is an accomplished scholar-athlete who has excelled both on and off the track and soccer fields where she has led her team to state championships. It certainly takes great use of time management and discipline to maintain her high grades and put in the work needed for athletic practice.” It is no surprise that despite her busy schedule she has maintained a weighted GPA of 4.19.

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Taylor McGlashing

Taylor McGlashing is a recent graduate of Atkins Academic and Technology High School. She has been actively involved in extracurricular activities. She participated in Authoring Action, two intense weeks of writing and three weeks of production. She was invited to the National Black Theater Festival discussing issues like violence and access to education. Taylor is an AP Scholar with honors, AA National Recognition Program, Crosby Scholar, and Wake Forest University Certification of Participation of the Medical Scholars Program. She dances, is a member of the marching band, and is also on the varsity swim team. Taylor was raised by Jamaican parents. The most distinctive thing from the culture that embodies her philosophy is the phrase “no problem”. She believes that it dictates the resilience of the people as they are able to tackle many issues they face with a tenacity that is almost innate. She is equally passionate about writing as she is about science and would like to use both in her research science career at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Taylor is passionate about the pursuit of the truth through scientific research. Her grit and determination have made her persevere despite obstacles and maintain a 4.52 weighted GPA. She has been reminded of the intensity of this career but knows she will succeed “no problem.” Her science teacher said “I always loved Taylor’s passion for science and learning, while in class, Taylor never complained about the workload and effort required to problem solve and think outside the norm. She actually cleaved to it and searched for this in every class. She looked forward to a challenge and strived to go beyond expectations each time in the honors and Advanced Placement courses.”

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Naomi Oliver 

Naomi Oliver is a recent graduate of Hawthorne Academy of Health Science with a weighted GPA of 4.1. Naomi has spent a great amount of her time in the past 4 years in the Y Achievers Program. Y Achievers is a national YMCA Program that helps teens improve their academic performance. Naomi serves as President of the program at Hawthorne Academy of Health Science and was also nominated as an Ambassador for Y Achievers.  The Y Achievers site Coordinator shared the following about Naomi, “She is a self-starter and contributes to the improvements made in our program. She has a strong work ethic, and she has a genuine passion for her studies.  Her commitment to her studies and her community is evident in her academic achievements and her enthusiasm for being impactful no matter where she is”. Naomi has been accepted and plans to attend North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in the fall of 2023.  She plans to major in Liberal Studies (Pre-Law).  One of her goals during this time and beyond is to open a Book Store containing books primarily written by Black Authors.

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Eden Perry-Benton

Eden Perry-Benton is a recent graduate of Charlotte Teacher Early College. She has participated in Youth Story Teller, Spoken Word Poetry, worked at Orrman’s Cheese Shop, Podcast Host, Teen Court Justice, Black Girls Ambassador, Youth Leader, Advocate, and Facilitator of Healing Sessions. Her weighted GPA is 3.28. Eden was first exposed to art by her family, specifically her mother who took her to different art events. She developed a passion that transitioned from viewing other's artwork to creating her own. She honed in on this by attending the Spelman Curational Arts program. Eden will double major in art and communications in the Fall at Salem College. She would like to collaborate with nonprofit organizations to create programs on introducing black artists and art history to young black girls. Her academic advisor at Cato College considers her highly motivated, passionate, and driven change-maker. This sentiment was also expressed by her English teacher who expects great things from her with social justice and advocating to improve the lives of women of color.

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Amaya Squirewell

Amaya Squirewell is a recent graduate of Central Cabarrus High School. She is involved in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Student Council, National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), National Honor Society (NHS), BETA club, A and A/B Honor Roll, and National Society of High School Scholars while maintaining a weighted GPA of 4.25. Amaya plans to study pharmacy at North Carolina State University. She is invested in giving back to her community to make them aware of the importance of taking care of their physical and mental health. Her rationale is that it is important that people of color have representatives in healthcare who look like them. The issue of trust will increase when patients encounter providers whom they can relate to. Amaya’s STEM coach states that over the years her growth personally, professionally, and academically is evident. She is referred to as a team player in collaborating with her peers. The coordinator of Bethel Baptist Usher’s Ministry has also concurred. It’s stated that she has great leadership skills, motivates others and is always seeking ways to give back to her community.

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