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I was introduced to the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) almost ten years ago as a confirmation student at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church. The other confirmation students and I were called to fulfill one of the missions of the church, Service, by sharing our talents as volunteers at the Center.
Although our service as confirmation students expired after a few months, I maintained my connection with the center and volunteered during the Christmas Toy Give Away and remained available during other parts of the year. I admired the proactive and committed position that the EOYDC staff exhibited, I reveled in the response that I got from the children after we interacted and I respected the goals of the organization. I was therefore extremely delighted when Regina Jackson invited me to further service the Center and community as first, the Assistant Director of the Summer Cultural Enrichment Program and later, the Director of the Summer Program.
I was 18 years old, in my first job and taking on such responsibilities as coordinating daily activities, giving weekly presentations, hiring and firing employees, dealing with upset parents and sometimes-unruly children. Whatever doubt I held about my capabilities Regina Jackson forced me to lose. She once told me, “Sometimes all you have is one chance, get in there and prove that you can do it”. So as the Assistant Director and the Director, I was assisting in the development and implementation of programs that not only encouraged the attendants of the EOYDC to grab reigns and become leaders, but also encouraged me to do the same.
In 2002 I graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. with a major in Biology and a double minor in Chemistry and Allied Science. I am currently employed at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and I am working towards my PhD in Pharmacy.
I am pleased when I think that my experience as a member of the EOYDC family has granted me the mental growth and the leadership capabilities to move through life’s challenges with confidence. Thank You.