Hagerstown YMCA's Achievers program 'motivates you'

April 21, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Ahmere Ware, 17, left, and Tytianna Cooper, 17, both of Hagerstown, are seniors receiving a scholarship from the Hagerstown YMCA's Achievers program Saturday.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

For young people to succeed, they need to know the possibilities.

That is the idea that drove Deborah Addo Samuels, chief operating officer at Meritus Medical Center, to become active in the Hagerstown YMCA’s Achievers program.

“If only think you can only do a or b, that’s what you are programmed to do,” Samuels said. “But if you think you can do a through z, then that really motivates you.”

Adults and young people gathered Saturday night to celebrate a commitment to exploring and achieving goals at the Hagerstown YMCA Achievers Scholarship Banquet at Bridge of Life.

Achievers is a diversity program through which students grades six through 12 gain exposure to career, education and social opportunities. Adult role models from the community volunteer to serve as mentors. About 30 young people meet twice a month on Sundays for “cluster sessions” on topics including arts and culture, law and government, and medical issues.

Samuels was one of two Adult Achievers honored at the banquet. Working as a mentor will allow her to introduce young people to different paths, she said.

“It’s about providing them with exposure. Maybe you are an artist. Maybe you are a scientist,” Samuels said. “It’s about finding your niche and following that.”

Renee Emanuel of Hagerstown, a speech-language pathologist with Frederick County Public Schools, also was honored. Emanuel has served as an art and culture cluster leader, and three of her children have gone through the program.

“It does expand their thoughts about options. It emphasizes the importance of dreaming and creating opportunities,” Emanuel said.

The banquet opened with a song-and-dance tribute to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson performed by members of the arts and culture cluster. Bernard Grenway, owner of Grenway Consulting Group and a professor at Kaplan University and University of Maryland University College, gave the keynote address.

Natalie Brown, who was honored years ago as an Adult Achiever and continues to serve as a mentor, presented highlights of the program. Brown said participants have toured college campuses, and visited the White House, the Pentagon and other significant sites in Washington, D.C.

Senior Achievers Tytiana Cooper and Ahmere Ware received scholarships in the amount of $250.

Achiever Elta Clarke, 15, of Hagerstown, said she has learned about fascinating people and concepts through her medical cluster session. She noted interest in Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were harvested to create an immortal cell line for medical research.

Aaron McFarland, 16, of Hagerstown, has participated in Achievers for three years. Aaron said the program has helped him consider ways in which he might combine his passion for music with his interest in business to build a career.

“I’ve learned things that will help me in the real world,” Aaron said. “I’ve learned to be prepared, how to use my talents and how important education is.”

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