RVCC Honors Local Teens at 25th Annual Robeson Reception

Eighty middle and high school students from Somerset and Hunterdon counties were honored for their achievements at the 25th Annual Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Awards Reception, held March 24 at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in Branchburg.

The evening featured a keynote address by motivational speaker Nashad L. Warfield, a native of Plainfield.

The National Council of Negro Women and RVCC initiated the Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Awards program in 1990 to pay tribute to the outstanding attainments of students in the two counties. The awards are named in honor of Paul Robeson, a Princeton native who grew up in Somerville and graduated from Somerville High School and Rutgers University. The awards, sponsored by the Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Social Justice at RVCC, are given in four areas in which Robeson excelled: scholarship, the arts, community service and athletics. In addition, special “Renaissance Scholars” awards are given to students who excel in a number of disciplines.

The 80 students were nominated for awards by their guidance counselors, teachers and administrators. A special committee of RVCC faculty and administrators selected the award recipients.

The following middle school students received special recognition:

Arts
Nya Venson, Warren Middle School

Amaya Adetiba, Readington Middle School

Athletics
Chase Donovan Jones, Warren Middle School

Jordyn Wright, Franklin Middle School

Community Service
Noah Slade Joseph, Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School

Nia Abdullah, Franklin Middle School

Scholarship
Serena Jackson, Franklin Middle School

Aleah K. Spruell, Warren Middle School

Renaissance

Troi Ford, North Plainfield Middle School

Monet Murray, Franklin Middle School

The following high school students received special recognition:

Arts

Cassidy Gabriel, Hunterdon Central Regional High School

Oiseozoje Ohiwerei, Franklin High School

Athletics

Aamira Muse, Franklin High School

Devyn Spruell, Watchung Hills Regional High School

Community Service

Dimitri Henry, Hunterdon Central Regional High School

Megan Hill Glover, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School

Scholarship

Brenda Okereke, North Plainfield High School

Jada Edwards, Franklin High School

Renaissance

Jonathan Martin, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School

Sydney Menzies, Immaculata High School

Paul Robeson, son of an escaped slave, rose from humble beginnings to become a superior athlete, scholar, orator and linguist and a star in theater, film and on the concert stage. His performances in The Emperor Jones, Show Boat and Othello remain theatrical landmarks. Robeson also was an outspoken and controversial advocate of civil rights for African-Americans and an international humanitarian. In the 1950s, during the McCarthy era, he was persecuted for his political ideas and prevented from working. His passport was revoked for eight years because the US government considered his activities in the 1930s and '40s treasonable. Throughout Robeson’s career, he remained convinced that “art can bridge the gulf between white and black races.” Robeson died in Philadelphia in 1976 at the age of 77.

Nashad L. Warfield has worked for such top organizations as Procter & Gamble and BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine. As a professional motivational speaker and trainer for over 15 years, Warfield has traveled the country sharing the principles of academic and life success with high school and college students. His dynamic, high-energy presentations have reached more than 750,000 students over the past decade. Warfield has been a frequent guest speaker at RVCC, presenting at such programs as the College’s annual Convocation and the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) College and Transfer Fair.

The Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Social Justice was founded in 1999 to preserve Paul Robeson’s legacy in the area where he came of age as an artist, athlete, orator, and scholar. The Institute envisions a global community of diverse cultures that embodies, through attitudes and behaviors, Paul Robeson’s ideals, beliefs, values, and vision for a world of justice and peace.

The Paul Robeson Resource Room, located in RVCC’s Evelyn S. Field Library, is an information center for Robeson’s national and worldwide activities. Established in 2003, the Resource Room serves as a repository for educational materials, historical records and memorabilia of Robeson’s Somerville years and the worldwide accomplishments of people of African-American descent.

Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 50 years, RVCC is an educational and cultural center that is nationally recognized for its innovative programming, service to the community and environmental leadership. The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, professional development and personal enrichment courses. The College also has a performing arts center and planetarium.

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Mission Statement:

Raritan Valley Community College is an educational community that works to develop critical thinking, foster intellectual curiosity, promote leadership, encourage social responsibility, support personal growth, and sustain engaged citizenship within a diverse population of students and community members.

Diversity Statement:

Raritan Valley Community College values all aspects of diversity including but not limited to race, sexual orientation, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability, socioeconomic status, and political and philosophical perspectives. We rely on diversity to enrich the intellectual environment for students and employees. We support educational access and opportunity by recruiting and retaining a diverse college community. We foster diversity by developing and maintaining curricular and social programs that infuse the contributions of all people, and by preparing students to excel in a global society. Our commitment to diversity is reflected in the College’s Mission Statement and Strategic Goals, all of which support excellence in teaching, learning and professional development in a welcoming and respectful climate.

Core Values:

• RVCC is an open admission institution with high standards and excellent support services.

• RVCC serves as an important center for our community.

• RVCC participates as a reliable partner with the region’s K-12 schools to support active learning and college readiness.

• RVCC must provide support for student success, but students are responsible for their own achievements.

• The College values the diversity of our communities as a resource that strengthens the institution.

• The College is accountable for the prudent use of all its resources and seeks transparency in all its operations.

• The College measures its success against national models and standards.

• The College commits to environmentally sustainable practices.

• Educational programs must be affordable.

• A healthy college community depends on integrity and respect.

• The best college decisions are made on a learning-centered foundation.

• Learning is a lifelong endeavor.