A"Jewelle Johnson (center) and her parents, LaKenya (right) and Ernest (left)
A'Jewelle Johnson was presented with the Shining Star Award and a Congressional Recognition from Congressman Andre Carson at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Indianapolis Masked Ball on Saturday, December 9th, 2017. She also spoke to more than 900 gala guests about her future goals and the impact UNCF has made on her life.
A'Jewelle is a junior at Providence Cristo Rey High School, and works for UNCF through the school's Corporate Work Study Program.
A'Jewelle works at UNCF each Wednesday, and helps with their social media presence and other marketing strategies. UNCF is a mission-based organization that aims to increase college completion of minority students, and sustain the growth of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
"We have been impressed by her skill and willingness to learn," says Terri A. Hill, UNCF's Development Director and A'Jewelle's supervisor. "We see so much potential in her."
"Our regional director decided A'Jewelle deserved this award. This is one way we want to pour into her. She is our investment in the future," says Hill.
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President & CEO of UNCF, presented a Congressional Recognition on behalf of Congressman Andre Carson to A'Jewelle on behalf of the 7th Congressional District of Indianapolis. "I encourage you to view this milestone not as end, but as the beginning of a lifetime of growth. This is a remarkable achievement, one that I know will be followed by many more because of your dedication in pursuing higher education," said Carson.
A'Jewelle's mother and father attended the gala to watch her speak. "I am so proud of her. I've seen her present at school, but I was so blown away with her poise and skill at speaking in front of such a large, formal group," said her mother, LaKenya Johnson. "There were definitely a few tears!"
Her speech focused on the impact working at UNCF has had on her. "On the 16th of August, 2017, I walked into the UNCF Area Office on 38th and Meridian and the course of my life was forever changed. My short journey with UNCF has already provided me with an abundance of opportunities that few high school students will ever get to experience," said A'Jewelle in her remarks.
A'Jewelle, a junior, has already decided on her first choice for college, Hampton University, an HBCU located in Hampton, Virginia. She is all smiles when she talks about her future on campus. "I want to study business and communication. HBCU schools have strong communities and support systems, and I am excited to live on campus."
Nerves were not an issue for A'Jewelle, who said it best in her remarks: "How can I be nervous when I know that I am in a room with people who are helping to support my dreams and future aspiration? How can I be nervous when I know that I am speaking to people who want to see me succeed in life, who are planting the seed for my future?"
Thank you to UNCF Indianapolis for their continued support of Providence Cristo Rey High School students! We are deeply grateful for the care and guidance they have shown our students.
Read A'Jewelle's full remarks below:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is an honor and great privilege to be here with you all tonight. My name is A’Jewelle Johnson and I am the UNCF Indianapolis Area Office student intern. I am a junior at Providence Cristo Rey High School, where I am a student ambassador, DECA participant, and Fall 2017 Center for Leadership Development Self-Discovery and Career Exploration participant.
Tonight, I want to share how UNCF has impacted my academic journey.
As part of my internship, I manage the area office’s social media marketing platforms. I am learning many skills that will prepare me for my future career in entrepreneurship and marketing. I am the one who tweets and posts on Facebook. (Yes, those clever sayings of encouragement, advice, interactions with our partner schools, and links to scholarships come from me.) UNCF is also providing me with opportunities where I can personally develop as a public speaker and change agent.
This experience allows me to see how UNCF has and continues to make long term investments in the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. They are providing me with moments like these. Experiences like my first presentation where I reported the growth of the UNCF Indianapolis Area Office Twitter and Facebook accounts, in the chambers of the honorable judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
On the 16th of August, 2017, I walked into the UNCF Area Office on 38th and Meridian and the course of my life forever changed. My short journey with UNCF has already provided me with an abundance of opportunities that few high school students will ever get to experience. It has also influenced my decision of where I would like to pursue higher education. I have decided that I will be studying entrepreneurship and marketing at Hampton University.
When asked how many people would be here tonight I respond by saying, “Oh, there will be about 1,000 people.” From the look in the person’s eyes I can tell that they are shocked that I am not nervous. But, how can I be nervous when I know that I am in a room with people who are helping to support my dreams and future aspiration? How can I be nervous when I know that I am speaking to people who want to see me succeed in life, who are planting the seed for my future?
So, on behalf of myself and all future UNCF scholars, I say thank you. Thank you for helping us to see our potential, and thank you for helping to provide us with a way to get there. Thank you for investing in our minds, because they are a terrible thing to waste. Have a fantastic evening ladies and gentlemen."