13th Annual Youth Leadership Award Winners
Meet this year's winners: Da'Angela Shepherd, Britney Evans, Davina Bridges,
Eric Parks, Jr. and Brian Lane
John E. Rooney Dynamic Scholarship
The John E. Rooney Dynamic Scholarship was established in 2004 by U.S. Cellular in honor of the late John E. "Jack" Rooney, former CEO of U.S. Cellular. Since its inception, this scholarship has provided seven young people with the chance to pursue a college education and become our future leaders.
Davina Bridges, Independent Living Program
- Achievement: After dropping out of school, Davina obtained her GED. She will graduate from Olive Harvey College in December 2012 with an Associate's degree, and currently has a 3.3 GPA.
- Intention: Has been living on her own since last year, and handles household responsibilities while at the same time as pursuing her education, taking care of her son and mentoring her older sibling.
- Motivation: Is the first person in her biological family to go to college.
- Empowerment: Wishes to be a positive role model for her son and other young females so that "they will know that they do not have to give up".
- Future plans: To graduate from Olive Harvey, then to transfer to UIC to obtain a four year degree. She then hopes to work for the FBI.
- Thoughts on leadership: "Leadership means taking a stand to do something positive and influential for those around you."
The Independent Living Program is designed to be a youth's final placement in the child welfare continuum. It aims to provide older youth with the skills, support and resources necessary for successful emancipation and self-sufficiency at age 21.
2012 Youth Leadership Award Recipients
Britney Evans, LGBTQ Host Home Program
- Achievement: Invited to join her college Honors Society, and recently received a promotion at work.
- Intention: Was one of the youngest coordinators of a local SGI Buddhist chapter
- Motivation: Has been instituting housemate meetings at her home to address conflict, divide work equitably, and ensure everyone does their part.
- Empowerment: Is involved with local advocacy groups and volunteers at After School Matters
- Future plans: Hopes to pursue a degree in Architecture at IIT and to use these skills to (1) work abroad, potentially through the Peace Corps, and (2) work for a design firm
- Thoughts on leadership: "Above all else, leadership stands for having mindful responsi¬bility over the course of your own actions and for the actions of your constituents.
The LGBTQ Host Home Program provides safe housing and ongoing supportive services for LGBTQ homeless youth aged 18-24. This innovative housing model creates the safety and stability necessary for youth to focus on pursuing educational and vocational opportunities, leading to independence.
Brian Lane, High School to College
- Achievement: Is now a senior at Steinmetz High School with a 3.5 GPA, and was the first participant in his program to be accepted at college this year
- Intention: Has completed 163 hours of service commitment (vs. the 40 required for CPS graduation)
- Motivation: Has strong attendance at meetings/trainings, arriving on time for all sessions
- Empowerment: Is a role model for younger program participants, especially incoming freshmen
- Future plans: Will attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and hopes to major in architecture
- Thoughts on leadership: "Leadership is the act of using one's knowledge and skill to help others."
The High School to College program is designed to improve the academic and professional skills of adolescents currently in the care of the state. It helps Chicago Public School students in 8th-12th grades achieve their goals of graduating from high school and entering post-secondary education.
Eric Parks, Jr. FamilyWorks
- Achievement: Ranked 21/246 in his high school, and has completed AP classes in Geometry and Spanish
- Intention: Volunteers as a staff assistant in the Altgeld Park District
- Motivation: Present during the high profile murder of a local youth, Eric made the decision not to engage in destructive and harmful behavior so that he wouldn't become a youth violence statistic
- Empowerment: Serves as a role model and mentor to his three brothers, stressing the importance of education
- Future plans: Has been accepted at Prairie State College, and hopes to study business so that he can open his own family community center
- Thoughts on leadership: "Leadership means to serve and guide others to be positive and to succeed in meeting their goals."
Da'Angela Shepherd, FamilyWorks
- Achievement: Ranks 20/115 in her senior class at CICS Ralph Ellison
- Intention: Is the co-chair of Roseland Christian Center's Violence Prevention Program
- Motivation: Was accepted at five colleges for this fall
- Empowerment: Works with the Chicago Police Department as an advocate of the S.A.M. program, which fights against youth alcohol sales. Also visited Springfield to advocate for youth program funding.
- Future plans: Will attend Southern Illinois University in the fall to major in radio broadcasting. Also hopes to build a center for youth in her Lowden Homes community.
- Thoughts on leadership: "What leadership means to me is to take responsibility for your actions, to always be positive, and to be cautious of what you do because there are people who look up to you.
The FamilyWorks program works with residents in select Chicago Housing Authority developments. Through onsite case management with emphases on workforce development, community involvement and overall family stability, it helps to ensure that families achieve economic and social self-sufficiency.