In a day in age where videos flood YouTube with young black girls twerking and non-black young girls aspiring to be twerkers, we need a forefront of positive role models for the black community.
And here they are….
Andrew Koonce, 15, is a talented African-American violinist from Atlanta. His list of awards and titles are impressive. As an eighth grader, he ranked first place at the Heritage Music Festival in Florida, winning the Maestro Award for best solo.
At 17, Rochelle Ballantyne is one of the top chess players in the world. This Brooklyn, N.Y., native is a high school senior now, but her name is still at the top of Intermediate School 318′s list of best players. She is on the verge of becoming the first black American female to earn the title of chess master.
Ginger Howard from Philadelphia, is an American professional golfer on the Symetra Tour. At 17, she was the youngest African-American to turn professional and win her first debut tournament. She is the first African-American to earn a spot in the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team.
While most of his peers slog through seventh grade, Stephen Stafford, 13, earns credits toward his pre-med, computer science and mathematics degrees at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The wide-smiling, fast-talking, classical piano-playing Lithonia, Ga., resident has been labeled a “prodigy” (a term he doesn’t really like).
Jaylen Bledsoe, 15, of Hazelwood, Mo., is a rare breed of high school sophomore. He started his own tech company, Bledsoe Technologies, which specializes in Web design and other IT services when he was just 13 years old and expanded it into a global enterprise now worth around $3.5 million.
Carson Huey-You The 11-year-old is the youngest student ever to attend Texas Christian University. Carson, who plans to become a quantum physicist, is taking calculus, physics, history and religion in his first semester. Given that he was devouring chapter books by age 2 and attending high school by age 5, the boy genius might reach his goal of attaining a doctorate degree before age 20.
Adam Kirby’s parents knew he was brighter than most other children when, at 23 months, he potty trained himself after reading a book on the subject. So advanced was he for his age, that Dean and Kerry-Ann Kirby took their firstborn to get his IQ tested at just two years old. The London native was found to have a score of 141 – higher than many U.S. presidents – despite not even being old enough to fully communicate. He was then invited to join Mensa, where he became the high IQ society’s youngest boy at two years and five months.
The Imafidons are Britain’s smartest family and have become international models of academic achievement. Dr. Chris Imafidon and Ann Imafidon came from Edo State, Nigeria, to London over 30 years ago and their children have broken national records in education. Anne-Marie, 23, the eldest child, is multi-lingual. She speaks six languages and graduated from college at age 10. At 13, she was the youngest person to pass the U.K.’s A-level computing exam. She went on to attend John Hopkins University in Baltimore and received her masters degree from Oxford University, all before she turned 20 years old. In 2009, fraternal twins Peter and Paula made headlines for becoming youngest students to enter secondary school at age 6. Their older sister, Christina, was 11 when she was accepted to study at any undergraduate institution in Britain.
Polite Stewart Jr. was 3 years old when his parents pulled him out of day care and his father began teaching him at home. The Baton Rouge, La., native loved learning science — and he clearly had an aptitude for it. At 14, he enrolled as a full time student at Southern University, majoring in physics. Polite graduated in December 2012 at 18, and is believed to be the youngest to do so in the university’s history. He plans to pursue a career that will allow him to apply the science he loves to the real world.
Anala Beevers of New Orleans learned the alphabet at four months of age and learned numbers in Spanish by the time she was 18 months. Now, at 4 years old, she is one of Mensa’s newest members.
Diamond Shakoor the 12-year-old girl is one of the best chess players in the country. With close to 250 tournaments played, Diamond is a seven-time national champion. At age 8, she was the youngest African-American female to go undefeated in a Chess National competition.
Living in Kenya’s Masai Mara, Richard Turere was given the task of finding a way to protect his family’s cattle without harming any lions. Three weeks and much tinkering later, Richard had invented a system of lights that flash around the cow shed, mimicking a human walking around with a flashlight. His system is made from broken flashlight parts and an indicator box from a motorcycle.
Maya Penn’s small business-success story has appeared in Forbes, Black Enterprise, Ebony, Huffington Post, Rebook and Atlanta’s Fox 5 News. Now 12 years old, she started out crafting ribbon headbands for family friends at age 8. Though she works on the business just part time, Maya’s ideas are on track to bring in about $55,000 in sales this year. She also vows to give away 10 percent of her profits to Atlanta-area charities. Penn, whose company is profitable, has donated $4,000 along with many volunteer hours.
At 7 years old, Zora Ball has become the youngest person to create a mobile video game. The Philadelphia native developed the game using programming language Bootstrap, usually taught to students between the ages of 12 and 16 to help them learn concepts of algebra through video game development.
Sierra Leone has power lines, but they seldom deliver electricity. So 16-year-old whiz kid Kelvin Doe built his own battery using acid, soda and metal parts scavenged from trash bins that he now uses to light up area homes and help him work on his inventions. Among other gadgets to his credit is a homemade radio transmitter with a generator that he uses to run his own community radio station under the handle DJ Focus.
Ola Orekunrin – “Against all odds, I passed my A-Levels with flying colors, started my degree at the University of York at 15. I supported myself all through, working. I wrote my final medical examinations at 21, thus emerging the youngest medical doctor in England,” said Ola Orekunrin. Determined to make a difference in medical practice, Orekunrin decided to set up The Flying Doctors, the first air ambulance service in West Africa. It basically provides critical care transportation solutions to both the private and public sector by selling yearly air ambulance cover plans to states, companies and individuals.
Stephanie Asante came to the U.S. in the third grade and met her future business partner, Nshira Turkson, in the seventh grade. They collaborated on a class project, Goo Goo for Ghana, in April 2010, collecting toys and clothing. After shipping more than 250 items to a Ghanaian orphanage, they used the same business plan for their new nonprofit, Born From Love. Asante, a senior at West Springfield High School who wants to study medicine, has Boston University, Tulane and Columbia universities in her plans for the future.
At 12, enrolled in a program for talented youth, Daquan Chisholm was assigned to create something to make the world better. He designed a walkie-talkie, bulletproof helmet. “That was the first thing that came to mind, making the police feel safer walking the streets,” said the Baltimore native.
Andrea Pugh – At the age of 16, Pugh already had a minor planet named after her. It was the second-place prize she earned at the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, Calif. “That’s a highlight for me,” says Pugh. Her project for the fair looked at ways to infuse nutrients into soil as a better method of preparing it for growing crops.
In 2009, Joshua Hall discovered the widespread horror of human trafficking and child slavery in Ghana through the service-based program, Journey for Change. Since returning from the West African country, the Frederick Douglass Academy IV Secondary School student has spoken about modern-day slavery at high schools, universities and the United Nations. He is one of four recipients of a Teen Nick 2010 Halo Award.