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Hagersown YMCA Achievers encouraged to pursue their dreams

September 25, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Frederick, Md., residents Leo Turnipseed, left, and his wife, Earnestine Turnipseed, are the business cluster leaders for this year's YMCA Achievers program.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — For any of the youths thinking it’s too early to plan a career, Leo Turnipseed had a story for them.

Turnipseed told the story of Farrah Gray, who grew up “in the projects” in Chicago.

Gray, who was 6 years old at the time, wanted to make an impact on his community and his mother’s life, so he started painting rocks, Turnipseed said.

Gray went door to door selling the rocks and by age 14, he was a self-made millionaire.

“You all have the same ideas inside you,” Turnipseed told students gathered for a YMCA Achievers program at the YMCA Hagerstown Sunday.

YMCA Achievers, for minority students, a national program that started at the Harlem, N.Y., YMCA in 1971, connects adult role models to students to help the youths set career and educational goals.

The program used to be known as Black Achievers but was changed to YMCA Achievers to open it to other students, said Director Deborah Phillips.

Through “career clusters,” the students meet regularly to study fields like art and culture, engineering, medicine, law and government, and business, Phillips said.

About 25 people turned out at the local YMCA for a kickoff to this year’s program.

The students heard from adults who lead the career clusters and learned about the process they need to follow to join.

Although the cost of the program is $50 for YMCA members and $75 for nonmembers, scholarships are available, Phillips said.

Turnipseed, who teaches the business cluster, encouraged students to think big, just like Gray did.

“What we want to do in the cluster is to help you dig inside yourself for that one idea that you have, that God gave you,” Turnipseed said.

Among the students attending Sunday’s kickoff was Jace Hopp, a student at Springfield Middle School.

The 13-year-old boy said he has enjoyed the YMCA Achievers program, especially when the group went on a field trip to see the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Hopp said the court was not in session at the time, but that didn’t bother him.

Hopp said what was impressive was that President Obama had been in the chambers just before the students arrived.

“It was so cool,” Hopp said.
 
 

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