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MLK, Emancipation scholars honored
ap EPscholars group
Flanked by Rev. Alvin Jackson (left), president of the MLK Observance committee and Rev. Hermon Scott, this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. and Emancipation Proclamation Scholarship recipients are Shari Garrett, Whitney Betts, Talisha Burns, Garland Riley, Jr., Briana Stutts, Kenitria Wrease, Antony Jepson, Keddrick Brown, Jared Peden, Ashley Huerd, Kevin Stotts, Shaquita Jones, Chary Williams, Jena Alford and Dominique Everett - photo by Photo provided.
The pat on the back Chary Williams received last month during a reception was more of push forward to pursue her dreams.
Williams was one of the 15 high school graduates who received $1,000 and $500 scholarships from the Liberty County Martin Luther King Jr. Observance and Emancipation Proclamation committees.
She said the recognition "means a lot because it shows that people care about kids who actually do good," and "support those who are trying to make something of themselves."
Williams will be entering Mercer University this fall as a freshman to study music, at the encouragement of her parents and chorus teachers who "never let me stop singing."
Besides family and friends, community leaders attended the reception to support the scholarship recipients.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas reminded them "on your shoulders lies the future."
"In four or five years, you're going to begin to take your place in this society," he said. "Make that place a powerful place, where you can speak to the nations."
Thomas told the recipients to let their work speak for them.
"Show people what you can do, as opposed to telling them," he said.
Board of Education chair Lily Baker charged the graduates to "be self-motivated," "work hard, work smart," "become financially independent" and "keep God first."
She also pointed out that the class of 2008 is the first to graduate with an extra year of education since the beginning of the Georgia pre-K program in 1993.
Baker also reiterated a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that she said she personally lives by.
"Live every day as if you're going to die tomorrow, but learn as though you're going to live forever," she said.
Dwaynea Golden, a recent college graduate who received the Emancipation Proclamation Scholarship in 2005, also gave the graduates advice.
Along with cautioning them to manage their time, choose friends wisely and study hard, Golden stirred the graduates "to keep believing in yourself."
"Everybody in this room may believe in you but it's mainly important that you believe in yourself," she explained. "Nothing is going to come to you. You got to go get it."
After hearing the scholars academic plans, the audience got a glimpse of the scholars' ideas and views.
When Keddrick Brown, who wants to become a physical therapist, was asked how he would achieve his long-term goals he said it is going to take "a lot of determination and motivation and hard work."
Ashley Huerd was asked how she would spend a million dollars, a "very easy question," she began, getting a laugh from the audience.
"First what I'd do I'd try to expand the medical schools in the United States because the doctors are declining people in need because they don't have health benefits," Huerd said.
According to Briana Stutts, a good citizen is "someone who's not afraid to give back," and "reach out to someone else."  
Kevin Stotts was asked what he would say to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. if he had the opportunity.
"I would say thank you very much for inspiring all African-Americans to come out and support one another," he said.

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