This May, two students and two alumna of the Rochester City School District were named the inaugural recipients of Urban Scholar Award, given by the University of Rochester's Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership and the Teen Health and Success Partnership (THSP). The four recipients, Hani Abdulkadir Mohamud, Zhane Bennett, Sabata Harley, and Shalonda White, each participate in THSP's Be Employed Be Successful program and were recognized for their passion for community service and dedication to higher education.
The award winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used for college or trade school needs and their names will be engraved on a plaque that will hang in the Teen Health and Success Resource Center at the University's Center for Community Health. The women were publicly honored during a graduation ceremony for Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection students, held on May 29, at the Auditorium Theatre.
"One hundred and two urban youth are now employed at the University of Rochester and they improve our daily operations significantly," said Suzanne Piotrowski, director of the Teen Health and Success Partnership. "The four award recipients are exceptional employees and students."
Catherine Cerulli, director of the Susan B. Anthony Center, who sat on the scholarship committee, noted that the applicant pool was full of worthy recipients. "The four women chosen were selected based on their outstanding achievement to their studies, employment, volunteer work and activism," she said. "These women have overcome obstacles that ensure their future success. They truly embody the spirit of Susan B. Anthony."
Hani Abdulkadir Mohamud, Wilson Magnet High School
Through the Teen Health and Success program, Hani Abdulkadir Mohamud is employed at Strong Memorial Hospital's Imaging Sciences Department. There, she works directly with patients to make sure their needs are met. Constance White, director of clinical operations in the department, said that Abdulkadir Mohamud is an outstanding young employee. "She displays great maturity in her interactions with patients, their families, and her co-workers," White wrote in a nominating letter. "Hani takes great pride in her job, which does not go unnoticed by those she interacts with."
At Wilson, Abdulkadir Mohamud serves as class treasurer and sits on student council, while outside the classroom she volunteers at St. John's Nursing Home. In the fall, she will attend North Iowa Area Community College to study radiological technology.
Zhane Bennett, Columbia University
According to Kimberly Muratore, program manager for Teen Health Success and Partnerships, Zhane Bennett is a star student. "In the year that I have known Zhane, she has consistently stood out as one of our program's top students and employees," Muratore wrote, noting her work in the leadership office at Strong Memorial Hospital. "Those that meet and get to know Zhane are immediately blown away by her maturity and compassion."
Bennett, who is a 2012 graduate of Wilson Magnet High School and current student at Columbia University, is involved in several community service programs. She volunteers at the American Red Cross, the Horizons Summer Program, and Rochester's Clean Sweep.
Sabata Harley, Northwest College Preparatory
As a patient companion observer at Highland Hospital, Sabata Harley works one-on-one with patients to make sure their needs are attended to. In addition to serving as president of her school's National Honor Society and volunteering with the Center for Youth, Harley is a Genesee Valley Gay Alliance ally, advocating and supporting the LGBTQI community. It is a cause Harley feels young urban adults are not as well aware of and she takes every opportunity to educate her peers about the rights of the LGBTQI community.
Muratore, who also nominated Harley for the award, said that she "takes what she has learned about discrimination and has made sure that no one in her life faces the same cruelty. I have never met a student that is more open-minded and fair than Sabata."
Harley, who will graduate from Northwest College Preparatory this June, plans to attend Nazareth College in the fall.
Shalonda White, Buffalo State College
After she graduates from Buffalo State College's social work program, Shalonda White plans to earn a master's degree before pursuing a career as a probation office. For White, a 2009 graduate of Edison Tech High School, the path to her career goals included support from Muratore, Piotrowski, her Hillside Work Scholarship Connection youth advocate, staff at the Medical Center's Department of Pharmacy, her counselor at Monroe Community College, and her mother. What White didn't realize was that as they were guiding her, she also was leaving an impression on them. "I was impressed with her determination to overcome social barriers," said Sandra Sullivan, pharmacy technician manager at the Department of Pharmacy. "While balancing her commitment to her education with community service and her own personal life with her commitment to the job, she truly exhibits two of Susan B. Anthony's great traits: persistence and self-sacrifice."
Launched in 2009, the Teen Health and Success Partnership works with University departments, the Rochester City School District, the Hillside Work Scholarship Connection, and a host of community agencies to create University employment opportunities for urban youth at risk of high school dropout. More than just an employment opportunity, the program provides youth access to health care services, libraries, computer labs, counseling services, college application preparation support, academic tutoring, leadership and management skills workshops, and campus social, cultural and athletic events, among others.