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The Stories Behind the Numbers

The Stories Behind the Numbers: Black Issues  Salutes Outstanding  Members of the Class 2000

1Christine Lincoln, left, is congratulated by a fellow graduate after accepting the Sophie Kerr award during commencement exercises at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. Lincoln received the $53,266 award for being the graduating senior with the best ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor. Lincoln, who graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average, also won the college’s premier academic prize, the George Washington Medal.

2Jarrett Alexander, recipient of American University’s prestigious President’s Award for 2000, came to American on a full, four-year academic scholarship. A member of the Black Student Alliance, he promoted cultural diversity on campus by working with other student groups to form the Ethnic and Cultural Clubs Coalition. Alexander graduated with a 3.92 grade-point average with a bachelor of science degree in political science. He also held several high-profile internships, including positions with the Drug Enforcement Agency and in the office of Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., while still finding time to tutor learning-disabled persons at the Greater Beulah Baptist Church and to teach Vacation Bible School at Gethsemane United Methodist Church.
3Lorielle Edwards graduated summa cum laude from Temple University’s School of Communica-tions and Theater. Her junior year was spent in Los Angeles interning with CNN. The producers were so impressed with her ability they offered her a full-time position, which she turned down to finish her undergraduate college career. After returning for her senior year, she applied to Harvard Law and was accepted. Edwards plans to be a public interest attorney. “As an African American woman, I’m especially interested in helping people who come from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds,” she says. She is pictured here being congratulated by actor and philanthropist Bill Cosby, a Temple alumnus.

4Guido Saró Grasso-Knight graduated from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., with a major in biology and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Grasso-Knight devoted much of his time to community and service outreach, including working as a public health investigator for a hepatitis prevention program on an American Indian reservation in California, as an emergency medicine volunteer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and as a child-life volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In nearby Chester, Pa., he led an education and mentoring program for underprivileged children where he helped link children and their parents with tutors from the college. Grasso-Knight received Swarthmore’s Ivy Award, given to the man of the graduating class who is outstanding in leadership, scholarship and contributions to the college community.

5The undergraduate student representative to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors last year, Darin Oduyoye served as the voice of 21,000 undergraduate students in a nonvoting position. Oduyoye, a public-relations major, received the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Roundtable Scholarship, the German Club Rising Senior Outstanding Leadership Award, the Paul N. Derring Award and the Department of Communication Studies’ Outstanding Senior Award. He has held several service positions with the university, including president of the Student Advisory Council to the Office of Multicultural Affairs, special-events chair of The Black Student Alliance and public-relations coordinator for Phi Sigma Pi national honor fraternity. Oduyoye, who served as a resident adviser, an altar server at Newman Community Catholic Church and a member of the Public Relations Society of America, will begin work July 14 as an analyst in investment management at J.P. Morgan and Co. in New York.
6Eight years after returning to school and earning a General Equivalency Diploma at age 62, Delores Johnson earned a bachelor’s of general studies degree at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis last month on Mother’s Day. Since the age of 13, Johnson lived with foster parents who kept her out of school after the eighth grade and sent her to work. Johnson’s graduation was the culmination of five years of study at the university, including a 13-week period two summers ago when she underwent radiation treatments in a fight against throat cancer. “She never missed a class during those 13 weeks,” says Irv Levy, director of general studies degree and credit programs.

7Braeden Rogers, a member of Lafayette College’s Class of 2000, discovered while doing research for his senior thesis that stock investments are a cause of the wealth gap between Whites and Blacks. Using income dynamics data that has tracked America’s wealth differences since 1968, Rogers took a look at where Black Americans put their money. While his project did not afford the time to ask “why,” Rogers has a few ideas of his own. “Parents teach their children what they know,” he explains. “If there was some type of discrimination in the past, they learned to distrust financial institutions. Then they teach their children to do the same.” Rogers has accepted a job with American Express Financial Advisors and hopes to be able to reverse the trend he discovered. “I will use the opportunity to go into communities where other people have never been, to get back in the neighborhood,” he says.

8Tahira Reid is a 2000 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., with a degree in mechanical engineering.  She is the university’s first undergraduate to design and patent her own invention — a double-dutch jumprope machine. A native of the Bronx, Reid is currently soliciting businesses in New York to purchase her machines and then donate them to area schools. She expects to launch her own business to manufacture and market the machines.

9Ten years after being homeless, living out of garbage cans and addicted to crack, Rene Stockton walked across the stage earlier this month at Hunter College in New York to receive his bachelor’s in sociology with a 3.88 grade-point average. Now a successful professional and honors student, Stockton, 39, already is pursuing a master’s in social work so that he can develop treatment programs for the homeless and drug-addicted. “Rene is a living testimony to the necessity of both access and excellence in public education,” says Hunter sociology professor Juan Battle.
10Louis Foster received his associate’s in computer information systems from Miami-Dade Community College. An alumnus of the prestigious Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, England, Foster had a distinguished military career of more than 12 years with the Jamaican Armed Forces before enrolling at Miami-Dade. An honors student with a 4.0 grade-point average, he was recently recognized as the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Most Distinguished Chapter President, and was named to the National Dean’s List, among other honors. Foster graduated from the college with the Eduardo Padrón Scholarship award.

11Angela Marcus, 26, received a bachelor of science degree in accounting and management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Although she had a toddler to raise as a single parent and a dying mother to care for, Marcus  earned her degree, raised the quality of life for her family and bought a new house for her mother. She is the first member of her family to graduate with a four-year degree from a major university. Marcus worked part-time and then full-time to support herself and her young son, Eddie, while also helping to care for her mother, who died of cancer in 1998. Despite her personal struggles, Marcus became president of the student chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. 

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