It was such a great honor to be the Keynote speaker at the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) scholarship event Wednesday night. With so many negative images and stories about our youth today, it was a delight to be in a room filled with people, many of them youth, to celebrate achievement.
The Association started their scholarship program ten years ago and since that time has given away $109,000 in scholarships to deserving students continuing their education at colleges all across the country.
I was so impressed with a former award recipient from 2003 who spoke just before me named Latesha Freeman. Latesha, a graduate from Hamden High School, was the first female recipient of the AABE award. Latesha teaches 7th and 8th grade algebra and recently completed her Master’s in Mathematics. It was inspiring to hear Latesha speak so passionately about her dreams and aspirations and her desire to give back to the community. I was pleasantly surprised that I knew her father who was a United Way volunteer years ago. Service to community is a family commitment!
The awardees were from all parts of the state, Kanysha Crosby from University High School of Science and Engineering in Hartford, who will pursue a degree in Business at Hampton University; La’Neesa Holmes-Cobb from Hyde Leadership High School in Hamden, who will pursue a degree in Science at Eastern Connecticut State University; and Kenrick Mattison from Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield, who will pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut.
I was delighted to share about the work of United Way of Greater New Haven and our belief that a good education is essential for lifelong success. I encouraged the awardees to “stay curious and continue to learn as much as you can for as long as you are able.” We’ve been waiting for their energy, their passions and their innovation to change the face of our world. This is just the beginning. Like so many others, theirs is a destiny of greatness to be encouraged and celebrated... I choose to believe in what will be. Finally, I made sure to remind them not to forget to give back. To whom much is given, there will be much required of them. It’s important for us to reach back and give back until there are more people in front of us ready to take the baton to the next level than those behind us.
I was delighted to see such great commitment from the different energy providers at Wednesday night’s event and for so many to come out and show their support for our youth.
My thanks to Lawanda Leslie, who is a United Way of Greater New Haven Board member and vice president of AABE; Lloyd Duggan, Jr., president of AABE (award presenter) and supervisor of Marketing and Sales for Yankee Gas Services; Chris Malone (award presenter), director of Gas Operations at Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation and The Southern Connecticut Gas Company; and Richard J. Reed (award presenter), vice president of Engineering and Project Excellence at The United Illuminating Company, and the great number of guests in attendance.