Black Achievers set career goals

September 26, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • Deborah Phillips, left, director of the Hagerstown Black Achievers program, leads Sunday's kickoff program at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. At right is 12-year-old Faith Franklin, a participant in the program.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

At 15 years old, Aaron McFarland already has an idea what he wants to be: a congressman.

The South Hagerstown High School student said he spent some time in the office of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., as part of a Day on the Job program and liked the experience.

Faith Franklin isn't mincing words regarding her future, either.

"I plan on being a pediatrician," the 12-year-old Northern Middle School student said during a Black Achievers event Sunday at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.

McFarland and Franklin are among a group of students who have taken advantage of the Black Achievers program at the Hagerstown YMCA.

The national program, which started at the Harlem New York YMCA in 1971, connects adult role models to students to help the youth set career and educational goals. It is also intended to turn idle time among youths into productive time.


Through "career clusters," the students meet from October to May to study fields like art and culture, engineering, medicine, law and government, and business, according to Deborah Phillips, director of the local Black Achievers program. The cost of the program is $50 for YMCA members and $75 for non-members.

About 31 individuals participated in last year's program, which is for those in grades six through 12, Phillips said.

A kickoff picnic for this year's program was held Sunday, and McFarland and Franklin were among about 30 students and adults who attended.

Franklin said she has been interested in the medical "career cluster," but she also enjoyed collecting food for the homeless as part of last year's program.

Phillips said the local program has been going well and one of the highlights last year was a field trip to the White House. Getting into the building took some effort, Phillips said.

"We were turned down three times before we got it," Phillips said.

This year, the group plans to take a field trip to The Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C., to study black history and culture.

The Black Achievers group is also planning a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court this year, Phillips said.

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