Future looks bright for young African American achievers in the Tennessee Valley
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) – While Black History Month is regarded as the period for recognizing past achievements and legacies of African Americans who have left an imprint on today’s world, there’s a younger generation of African Americans in the Tennessee Valley who are achieving at the highest level to help those around them.
Two of those high achievers currently attend Brainerd High School in Chattanooga.
Raulle Kelly and Christian Sinclair are both seniors at Brainerd High who are not only on the honor roll but also academically in the top ten percent of their class. Aside from working hard in the classroom, the two are also active in their community.
“I’m a Girl Scout helper for a Girl Scout troop and I tutor and I read to students at the Shepard Recreation Center,” Kelly said.
“I’m involved in the Brainerd Elite Leadership Team. I work with the Midtown City Council, the student Government Association, Key Club and I also tutor kids,” Sinclair said.
Christian has already been accepted to Morehouse University and MTSU. He told News 12 that he is leaning more toward MTSU where he would like to study communications.
Kelly is also on her way to college where she says higher education will give her the tools to obtain her dream career.
“I plan on either attending Tennessee Tech or University of Memphis. I want to major in communications and marketing. I hope to work in PR and marketing for a company one day and also have my own non-profit on the side,” Kelly said.
Both Kelly and Sinclair told News 12 their moms played a big role in helping them be the persons they are today.
“I’ve watched her just push and push to make sure that I have the best life and I don’t have to want for anything. So whenever I accomplish things, I owe it all to my mom,” Kelly said.
“My mom sends devotional text every day and always tells me to do my best. She’s just really motivating,” Sinclair said.
Although the two honor students stay busy both in the classroom and out in the community, they are fully aware of other kids their age who are at the other end of the spectrum; kids who are struggling and ready to give up hope. But they urge those kids to keep hope alive.
“There is always hope. There are people who going to love you and mentor you. There are people you can look up to in leadership,” Sinclair said.
“Whatever you’re going through now is not the end. There’s always a door open for change and you can’t let your trials and tribulations hinder you from becoming the best you can be,” Kelly said.
Sinclair and Kelly aren’t the only two African American teens at the high end of the achievement scale.
14 miles south of Brainerd High near Ringgold Georgia is Heritage High School where one African American student is gaining a lot of attention for what she does in the classroom and in her spare time.
Maya Jaffar is a junior at Heritage High who has become famous for putting the P in positive and A in achievement.
Jaffar is the co-captain of the cheerleading squad and most important; a highly rated honor student who views her time at Heritage High as a stepping stone to brighter future.
“I feel like this is where I am right now but it will eventually lead me to other things that I’m going to do,” Jaffar said.
The well-spoken 16-year old told News 12 she is already looking at specific institutions of higher learning to study communications. Her goal is to have a promising career as a television news personality.
“I’ve looked at Emerson in Boston. I’ve also looked at Spellman in Atlanta, University of Georgia of course because they have a great broadcasting department,” Jaffar said.
Jaffar is also a well accomplished singer and piano player. She told News 12 she has been playing the piano since she was 6-year old and has been singing for as long as she can remember. Jaffar also said her close-knit family is both her biggest support and source of inspiration, especially her father.
“He basically inspired me to sing. I know that I can share things with others through my voice. That’s how I worship for Christ,” Jaffar said.
Teachers and staff at Heritage High consider Jaffar as the gold standard when it comes to academic achievement. Jaffar’s science teacher, Kim Hayen described Jaffar as a student who truly cares about her work as well as her classmates and other teachers.
“She just makes sure to dot every I and cross every T. She’s very methodical. She’s also cheerful. She has a bright personality. On one of her papers, which was about electrons, she wrote smile brighter every day. When I grade that paper, it does make me smile brighter every day,” Hayen said.
News 12 asked Jaffar what it was like to be admired by her teachers.
“I’m really thankful and grateful for them saying that. I feel that when people get affirmations from other people, it makes them want to be better and makes them want to showcase what they can do but also want to share it with others,” Jaffar said.
New 12 congratulates Jaffar, Kelly, Christian and many other young African Americans in the Tennessee Valley who continue to strive for success.