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Black Achievers praise opportunities

September 17, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - It's not a hassle or a waste of time.

Eric Phillips, 17, of Hagerstown, said the time he has spent during his two years with the YMCA's Black Achievers program has been time well spent. He's learned about a potential career in computer technology, met successful businesspeople in the area and taken several field trips.

"It's opportunities I wouldn't have had," he said.

Eric, a senior at South Hagerstown High School, said he'll participate in the Black Achievers program again this year. The program that connects students with positive adult role models in the community is now in its fourth year locally, director Deborah Phillips said.

The program's annual kickoff was Sunday at Fairgrounds Park.

"It's very important for minorities to be involved in things like this," Eric said. "It's important to come together. And it helps to stay out of trouble. It just keeps people out of trouble. You're not out there doing nothing."

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Phillips said the goal is for 40 students to participate. They'll be divided into groups that will have a specific theme. Eric's group focused on computer technology, and others had themes like arts and crafts, engineering and education.

Shakira Doleman, 16, is a senior at North Hagerstown High. She said this will be her second year with the Black Achievers program.

"You can go on college tours and it helps you with your future," she said.

Shakira said Black Achievers helped her focus on her career and decide what she wants to do. She said she'd like to be a psychologist.

Phillips said Black Achievers exposes students to career, educational and social opportunities that they might not have otherwise.

Krisandra Davis, 16, is a junior at South Hagerstown High who was in the medical group last year. This will be her second year with the program.

Last year, Krisandra, who wants to be an ultrasound technician, said her group went to a veterinary office, where they watched a dog undergo surgery.

Akatshi Osongo, 14, and her sister, 15-year-old Eseka, are students at North Hagerstown High. Both said this will be their second year with Black Achievers.

Akatshi said it is helpful, and a way for her to meet new people and do new things.

"Then, when you graduate from high school, you can look forward to your future," she said.

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