In this Q&A, Angel Haythe (TMA ’15) shares why Black History Month at TMA is an empowering time for students to delve deeper into African-American culture and heritage. Haythe performed Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” and “Mississippi Goddam” at TMA’s 5th Annual Celebrating Our Roots. The powerful songs and the explosive lyrics were a heartfelt response to reoccurring violent events during the Civil Rights Movement that claimed the innocent lives of African-Americans. Today, Haythe is studying Business and Music at Trinity Washington University and is inspired by events like Celebrating Our Roots, which allow her to use her gifted voice to “help spread positivity and inspiration.”
Dominique Griffin (TMA ’09) is the newest member of Pathways, TMA’s monthly giving program. A notable alumna who has done service work in underdeveloped countries, spent a year in the Peace Corps, and served as a mentor for TMA’s Mentorship Program, Dominique says the activities and programs at TMA gave her an open-mind that empowered her to make a difference. Now, the Pathways Monthly Giving Program is, as Dominique puts it, “a chance to give back.”
Faculty and staff at Thurgood Marshall Academy continue to rave about Alicia Hargrove (TMA ‘10) and her many accomplishments. She graduated from the University of Texas, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in History. But it was a teaching position in Mexico that prepared her for a role at TMA. Now that the tables have turned—and Hargrove is the teacher and not the student—she embraces the ability to impact young people’s lives. In fact, she’s been on staff at Thurgood Marshall Academy since 2014, serving as a long-term substitute teacher and Programs Associate.
Thurgood Marshall Academy is proud of its 100% college acceptance rate among graduating seniors. To carry on this 11-year tradition, the College Counseling office works strategically with students to guide them along the application process. The efforts ensure that seniors apply for schools in three specific buckets: reach, target, and safety. Aris Morrison (TMA ‘10) remembers being introduced to this idea in Senior Seminar, a required course for 12th graders. He learned that reach schools were more competitive to gain acceptance into and target schools are often a student’s top choice because they meet the standards in most, if not all, of the required areas. However, the class lesson became a life-lesson when Morrison realized he identified with students more likely to be accepted into safety schools, colleges or universities for students who have not performed well academically.
Keosha Lamberson didn’t imagine that a service trip to Louisiana, Mississippi, and other southern states where residents were barely making ends meet would be an eye-opening experience that would shape her future in bringing about community change. Lamberson, who was just 14-years-old at the time, was a freshman at Thurgood Marshall Academy and struggled to put forth the effort required to succeed. However, the service trip gave her the ‘focus’ she needed to get back on track by the time she graduated from Thurgood Marshall Academy in 2010.
“I don’t really know what my life would look like if I didn’t go to Thurgood or graduate from college…” Justin Williams graduated 10 years ago, with TMA’s first graduating class. His journey at TMA has “come full circle.” Today, he works in the Special Education Department at TMA and is honored to serve TMA students. Justin opens up about the TMA he knew as a student, the TMA he is even more proud of as a staff member, and his advice to students.
“Anyone at Thurgood Marshall Academy could tell you that I’ve changed” says Tamiya Hall, a 2014 graduate and a current freshman at Norfolk State University (NSU). Now mid-way through her first semester, Tamiya’s transition to undergrad marks the end of a long personal journey into a goal-oriented college student: “I have truly changed my perspective on school and life, and I am proud of myself.”
Four year ago, Jacquelyn Patterson walked the across Thurgood Marshall Academy’s stage to receive her high school diploma. In May 2013, she became an alumna of Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law.
In high school, “I knew that I wanted to advocate for those in my community, but I was unsure how,” recalls Jacquelyn. Early on, out-of-school programs at Thurgood Marshall Academy helped solidify her interest in finding a way to give back to her community. Thanks to Thurgood Marshall Academy’s links to local and national stakeholders, Jacquelyn worked with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to complete community service hours. In this role, Jacquelyn says, “I interacted with the residents of DC and heard their concerns about their communities as well as how legislation affected them.”
Jereme Speight, a junior at Fairmont State University, is pursuing a degree in criminal justice. He aspires to work in social services after graduating in order to help his community. Jereme has highlighted opportunities working in low-security detention centers in order to serve as a mentor to at-risk youth.
In college, Jereme finds that one of his biggest challenges has been staying focused on school work. He found that the variety of social commitments open to undergraduate students could be distracting, but learned to manage his time and balance his academic and social priorities.
For Jereme, the most rewarding aspect of the undergraduate experience has been the opportunity to meet people from a variety of different backgrounds and gain a deeper understanding of new cultures.
Looking back on his experiences at Thurgood Marshall Academy, Jereme thanks the school’s teachers and staff “for all the help, support and encouragement throughout my years at TMA. I want to especially thank Dean Krein for being there, Ms. Allison for always staying on my case and Ms. Lyons for being an awesome teacher.”
Rashada Coton, is a 2014 graduate of Trinity Washington University. Having received her degree – with honors – in Mass Communications and a minor in International Affairs, she has jump started her career by contributing to theJasminebrand.com, a pop culture website, and by managing her own blog at outlookpress.blogspot.com As an aspiring writer, Rashada plans to pursue her career ambitions – working in the television/entertainment industry – by enrolling in a Master’s degree program at American University in Spring 2015.
Looking back on her undergraduate experience, Rashada finds that one of her biggest challenges was taking advantage of opportunities present at her college: “I believe I went into college very naïve in the sense that I thought things would just happen for me. I learned that hard work gets you opportunities – you can’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come.” Rashada says “the rewarding things about college for me were the opportunities I earned. I learned how to be self-sufficient. I interned with radio station WPGC 95.5 and at the White House.” At WPGC 95.5, Rashada was a street team member: “I helped set up events, interact with listeners, meet different celebrities, and gain great insight in the entertainment industry,” she explains. During her time at the White House, Rashada communicated with constituents by who wrote to the White House with various concerns. Of her undergraduate experience, Rashada says: “college helped me see my full potential.”
In reflecting on time at Thurgood Marshall Academy, it is the teachers, and their firm belief in each student’s potential, that Rashada remembers most. “I remember specifically taking an AP English course and hating the class but in the end I learned that I had potential and the class led me to writing,” she says. Rashada thanks them for “putting up with my feisty attitude…[and] for not giving up on me.”