Nyah Project rais­ing funds to send 10 stu­dents on in­ter­na­tional fel­low­ship

South Florida Times - - METRO - Staff Re­port

MI­AMI – Ten out­stand­ing high school stu­dents from Mi­ami-Dade County were se­lected for the pres­ti­gious Nyah Project Fel­low­ship, a pro­gram founded on the be­lief that “Travel Awak­ens Lead­ers” and de­vel­ops di­verse youth lead­ers through trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ences abroad.

Each year, a co­hort of Nyah Fel­lows re­ceives in­ten­sive train­ing in hu­man fac­tor lead­er­ship, so­cial en­trepreneur­ship and ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing in amaz­ing in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Ghana, Costa Rica, South Africa and Namibia – at no cost to them.

Founder, Leigh-Ann Buchanan an­nounced the 2017 fel­lows at a Nyah Project event held at Icon Bay in down­town Mi­ami. There, Nyah Project alumni, friends and part­ners gath­ered in sup­port of in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for un­der­served youth in Greater Mi­ami to ac­cess ex­pe­ri­en­tial lead­er­ship and in­ter­na­tional learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The 2017 Nyah Project Fel­lows will travel to Lon­don, South Africa and Namibia over the course of 12 days this sum­mer. They in­clude: 1. Maj el Williams, Se­nior, Mi­ami Carol City Se­nior High 2. Nia Sweet, Ju­nior, Car­roll­ton School of the Sa­cred Heart 3. Alvin Huezo, Se­nior, School for Ad­vanced Stud­ies 4. Clau­dia Corujo, Ju­nior, Mi­ami Springs Se­nior High School 5. Sa­mara Rolle, Ju­nior, Car­roll­ton School of the Sa­cred Heart 6.Tre­vian Jean-Fran­cois, Sopho­more, Wil­liam H. Turner Tech­ni­cal Arts 7. David Bruce, Ju­nior, MI­ami Nor­land Se­nior High School 8. Ke­moni Alexan­der, Ju­nior, Wil­liam H. Turner Tech­ni­cal Arts High School 9. De wayne Martin, Fresh­man, Amer­i­can Se­nior High School 10. Is­abella Lopez, Sopho­more, Sports Lead­er­ship and Man­age­ment Char­ter High School

Grad­u­at­ing alumni were also rec­og­nized at the event for win­ning aca­demic schol­ar­ships to no­table aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing Columbia Univer­sity, Emory Univer­sity, Univer­sity of Florida, Syra­cuse Univer­sity and Hamil­ton Col­lege.

Jean-Fran­cois' mother Wendy said her son would not have been af­forded such an op­por­tu­nity had it not been for the Nyah Project.

"The first word that comes to mind would be blessed and the sec­ond word would be hon­ored," Jean-Fran­cois said. "I re­ally do be­lieve that ex­po­sure to other cul­tures will re­ally help him to de­velop him­self as an in­di­vid­ual and as a young man and help to build his char­ac­ter."

Buchanan also em­pha­sized the im­pact of the Nyah Project. “We have ex­pe­ri­enced a 354 per­cent in­crease in ap­pli­cants, top­ping out at 70 this year.We have sup­ported the lead­er­ship devel­op­ment of 35 fel­lows and 70-plus fi­nal­ists. But, most im­por­tantly, since found­ing the pro­gram in 2014, 100 per­cent of our fel­lows are ac­cepted into col­lege or univer­sity and 90 per­cent of our fel­lows win aca­demic or merit-based schol­ar­ships,” Buchanan said.

Michelle Mclean-Bai­ley – former Miss Uni­verse ‘92, phi­lan­thropist, and en­tre­pre­neur – said she way happy to part­ner with the Nyah Project.

“The Michelle Mclean Chil­dren’s Trust has a strong his­tory of sup­port­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers through our var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ty­based pro­grams through­out Namibia and our trea­sured Michelle McLean Pri­mary School,” Mclean-Bai­ley said.“We are ex­cited to part­ner with the Nyah Project by cre­at­ing ser­vice learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­cit­ing ad­ven­tures in Namibia as well as to ad­vance global con­nec­tions be­tween South­ern Africa and South Florida.”

De­spite at­tract­ing sup­port from the Knight Foun­da­tion, DIBIA Dream Foun­da­tion, Jonathan Spikes Foun­da­tion, BMe Com­mu­nity, Nel­son Foun­da­tion, In­spire Trans­for­ma­tion and others, ad­di­tional funds are needed to ex­e­cute the 2017 fel­low­ship pro­gram in South­ern Africa.

As an en­tirely vol­un­teer run or­ga­ni­za­tion, 100 per­cent of the pro­ceeds raised sup­port the sig­na­ture lead­er­ship fel­low­ship pro­gram. Those in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing can do so on­line at: www.nyah­pro­ject.org/do­nate by June 1.

Prospec­tive in­di­vid­ual or cor­po­rate spon­sors should con­tact the Nyah Project di­rectly at info@nyah­pro­ject.com or 305-981-6875.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF LEIGH-ANN BUCHANAN

2015 Nyah Fel­low, Julio Bur­gos (stand­ing), shares high­lights from his ex­pe­ri­ence in Costa Rica to 2017 Fel­lows: (sit­ting left to right) Alvin Huezo, De­wayne Martin and Ma­jel Williams. who will travel to Namibia and South Africa this sum­mer.

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