Community leaders share their stories to inspire School 2 students Freelance writer and NFL player David Byrd, Viola LewisLipscomb of the Albany Department of Social Services, mayoral candidate and community advocate Ernest Everett, RPI Physicist Kim Lewis, non-profit founder Jahkeem Hoke, Tanya Henderson, and UAlbany Director of EOP Admissions, Hank Shuford, shared their stories with third through fifth grade students at the Enlarged City School District of Troy’s School 2 the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Photo provided By Molly Eadie, Troy Record Posted: 02/24/15, 9:34 PM EST|Updated: 31 secs ago TROY >> In honor of Black History Month, a panel of local community leaders got students at School 2 thinking about their futures. Third through fifth grade students researched and asked questions of their seven guests, who included freelance writer and NFL player David Byrd, Viola Lewis-Lipscomb of the Albany Department of Social Services, mayoral candidate and community advocate Ernest Everett, RPI Physicist Kim Lewis, non-profit founder Jahkeem Hoke, Tanya Henderson and UAlbany Director of EOP Admissions Hank Shuford. When asked what qualities colleges look for in students, Shuford told students good attendance and taking challenging classes will help applicants. “It’s very important to develop respect for yourself and your teachers, and take advantage of your counselors… but more importantly, you have to believe in yourself. You are our future,” Shuford said. When a student asked Hoke where he was from, he said he grew up in downtown Albany, but curiosity and adventure made him look outside his neighborhood and he advised students to do the same. “Try to go out and see what’s out there. Go and look outside your neighborhood, see the nice neighborhoods,” said Hoke. “It kind of gave me motivation to say, ‘I can do it, as long as I get out of my neighborhood and try to learn more and be curious.’” Hoke founded 4th Family Inc., a non-profit that hosts teen and community events, mentoring programs, sports, educational trips and more in the Capital Region. Everett told the students to take their dreams, write them on a piece of paper, and turn their dreams into goals. “Hang that goal up somewhere you’ll see it every single day,” said Everett. The ultimate goal for the panel was to bring people who grew up in similar communities as the students together to inspire them. Carroll Hill School has hosted similar panels in the past and will hold one on Thursday with a different set of leaders. Assistant Princial Lakime Meadows said the panel was a sort of twist on Black History Month, looking at the community’s current history makers. After the assembly, students told their teachers what advice resonated with them: messages including “use your summers wisely,” “mistakes are not always bad,” and “keep trying.” Gabriella Root, 10, said she especially liked hearing from Lewis and her career in science, and the academic degrees she’s earned. Lewis said she was inspired to become a scientist by a high school physics teacher. Lewis said she went to a predominantly black high school, and that teacher, a Xavier University graduate, was one of the only faculty members with a master’s degree. “One day she invited me to help with one of the experiments in class and it was very exciting for me to get up in front of the class and tell the students about [how] lasers work… and how the light interacts with matter,” said Lewis. She said the feeling of understanding the material and the support she had from that teacher was one of the reasons she became a physicist. Molly Eadie can also be reached at 290-3941.