Hakeem Wilson, a junior at Winters Mill High School, has been on the honor roll three years, and carries a 3.6 grade point average.
Hakeem Wilson, a junior at Winters Mill High School, has been on the honor roll three years, and carries a 3.6 grade-point average.
He's in the chorus, band and the National Honor Society, and draws satisfaction from his volunteer service with the Westminster-based GROW Mission, which works with church and government resources to help local people in need.
But Wilson counts among his greatest accomplishments the ability to make his family proud, and the steady steps he's taking toward his goal of become a landscape architect and pursuing his musical talents with the local Christian band, 3 A.M.
At Carroll County NAACP's annual The Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Jan. 14, Wilson discussed how faith, perseverance and the nudging of two of his teachers, Darcell Harris and Kasey Reid, have helped him see a limitless future ahead.
"I try to surround myself with positive people," Wilson said in a video presentation at the breakfast. "My motivation is to make my family proud."
He gains strength, as well, from the legacy of King, who Wilson said provided, "an example of how to stay strong and never give up, because that's what he did."
Wilson received an award at the breakfast as a "Success Story" chosen from local student nominees by the Education Committee of the NAACP Branch 7014. Officers said Wilson exemplified the successes that can emerge from the combination of hard work, education and faith.
The annual breakfast, presided over by Branch 7014 President Jean Lewis and Executive Committee member Jose Flores, drew a full house of residents, officials, NAACP members and school advocates at Martin's Catering of Westminster.
In addition to County Commissioners Doug Howard, Haven Shoemaker and Robin Frazier, other officials on hand included State Dels. Susan Krebs and Nancy Stocksdale, Board of Education member Virginia Harrison and School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie.
Education was the theme, and guest speaker Joshua Parker, 2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year, said it remains the greatest opportunity, and at times the greatest challenge, for young blacks, particularly males.
Parker, the English/Reading/World Languages Department chairman at Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, recalled his own days growing up and realizing the opportunities that literature and education presented — but also the ways in which academic success can be frowned up by peers.
"When African American males start to achieve academically, they receive tension within their own group — and that's difficult," he said.
Parker said when he landed a teaching position in Baltimore County, one of his goals was to become a role model who could show that academics — reading, creative writing and literature — could be a path to better lives.
Too many young people today, Parker said, "want to be mediocre in so many things. Be excellent in something."
As a teacher, Parker has organized a middle school all-male reading club; directed a top-10 Black Saga Team; coached a boys junior varsity basketball team; and implemented a after-school program at two middle schools — all with the goal of presenting students with varied paths, and showing them that someone cares.
"All students are waiting for someone who is interested," he said. "The content (of lessons) is important, but it's not as important as the relationships."
And another important factor, he said, is presenting a role model. He said the greatest reward in achieving the title of Baltimore County Teacher of the Year, then Maryland Teacher of the Year, was broadening his students' vision of what they could achieve themselves.
Parker said combining those ideals — educational opportunity, healthy relationships, encouragement and being a positive role model — offer an opportunity to "bring the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King into things you can see and feel."
"Try to make manifest all of the teachings of Dr. King," he said. "If we do, we will improve our community and we'll have the kind of world that Dr. King talked about."
To that end, Parker said Wilson was an example of how Martin Luther King's message and dream has taken tangible shape in a new generation.
He touted the Winters Mill student as not only multi-talented, but thoughtful of his place in the community.
"In academics and in music, he gives back," Parker said.
Then, directly to Wilson, he said, "I am honored, in you being honored."