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Meet and Sponsor Y Achievers to Help Them Prepare for College, Career

June 14, 2019

Since 1967, the Y Achievers Program has been helping youth and teens reach their full potential by preparing them for college and beyond. This national college and career access and readiness program provides guidance to young adults on how they can establish and meet high academic and career expectations.

On top of that, the Y Achievers Program emphasizes character development, showing youth and teens how they can build their self-esteem, respect for others, and sense of responsibility and caring. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis believes these core values can help young adults lead healthy, productive lives.

[caption id="attachment_13721" align="alignright" width="303"]David Jones DAVID JONES, Book Scholar Award Recipient [/caption]

Y Achievers success stories

Ranetra Rhodes is a Y Achievers student whose involvement with the YMCA has allowed her to do so many empowering things she normally would not have done. For instance, in the course of deciding which college to attend, she traveled to five states in the Midwest, visiting two to three schools in each state!

“The experiences I’ve had with the YMCA have shown me how to navigate life and the workforce once I’m there,” Ranetra said.

The legacy of Y Achievers cannot be overstated. Many alumni have gone on to do amazing things.

Giving back

[caption id="attachment_13716" align="alignleft" width="242"] PREA JACKSON, 2017 Y Achiever of the Year Scholarship Recipient[/caption]

“Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me,” said Y Achiever alum Kennedi Gilbert, who is also a 2016 Eli Lilly Scholarship & Book Scholar Award Recipient. Kennedi will graduate from DePauw University in 2021.

Prea Jackson, a 2017 Y Achiever of the Year Scholarship Recipient, is a sophomore with junior status at Indiana University Bloomington. She started a nonprofit student organization on campus in 2018 called  , dedicated to advocating for health, fitness and wellness through community and service.

Reaching goals

“Being a part of the YMCA is something like no other. I have been able to push past limits, reach goals, and step outside of my comfort zone,” said Prea, who also runs several programs at Stone Belt, a facility for adults with diverse abilities.

Another Y Achiever alum, Julia Shirley, is a freshman at the University of Evansville. She serves as a liaison for the Black Student Union and is the secretary for her school’s Women’s Empowerment Club, all while working at a local elementary school as a tutor.

Leading by example

[caption id="attachment_13718" align="alignright" width="391"] JULIA SHIRLEY, 2018 Daphne M. Williamson & The She Has Everything Scholarship Recipient[/caption]

“Youth and Government, the Y Achievers Program and the Avondale Meadows YMCA have made a major impact on me and my community,” Julia said. Julia is also a 2018 Daphne M. Williamson and The Scholarship Recipient.

Y Achiever alum Ariyan Hines, a junior at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn. said, “I wouldn’t be where I am without the YMCA, truly.” She was a 2016 Distinguished Scholar Award and Book Scholar Award Recipient and a reporter for her school newspaper The Magician.

She is also president of Powerful Ladies of Color organization, vice president of the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and a participant of the W.E.B. DuBois Honors program.

We’re rooting for you!

[caption id="attachment_13715" align="aligncenter" width="500"] CHARLES HAWTHORNE, 2012 Roderick Conwell Scholarship & Book Scholar Award Recipient[/caption]

Charles Hawthorne, a 2012 Roderick Conwell Scholarship and Book Scholar Award Recipient, graduated in 2017 from Purdue University, where he majored in biochemistry and worked to provide safer sex materials and diversity education and training to students, staff, and faculty.

“I am incredibly thankful for all the support the YMCA has provided me over the past years. It is so nice to know that I always have people back home rooting for me to do well and succeed, he said.

Lessons learned

Today, Charles takes some of the lessons he’s learned through Y Achiever and applies it to his work as a capacity building coordinator for the Harm Reduction Training Institute and Outreach Project, in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health in Oakland, Calif.

If you would like to contribute to programs that help young adults like Y Achievers, you can make an online contribution to the YMCA’s annual campaign.

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YMCA of Greater Indianapolis