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The Young, Gifted & Empowered Awards hosting it inaugural youth summit on Friday, February 22 at Jackson Public Schools’ Michelle Obama Early College Program on the campus of Tougaloo College.  Past YG&E honorees and community leaders helped to facilitate sessions about leadership, coding, fashion design, podcasting, photography, graphic design, entrepreneurship, architecture, performing arts and community service.

The Young Gifted and Empowered Youth Summit was a stellar example of how a school, the Michelle Obama Early College High School, could creatively lead students to become college and career ready by partnering with local change agents like Shameka Reed to help students see multiple pathways to achieve their dreams while also providing a vehicle for high achieving professionals to inspire, empower, and guide the City of Jackson’s youth to become the City of Jackson’s greatest assets,” said Dr. Chinelo Bosah Evans, principal.

“Today was eye opening,” said Mauricsa Woods, one of the charter students of the Michelle Obama Early College Program. “The session on architecture and entrepreneurship with Greg Durrell helped me see the power of not giving up and the importance of persistently pursuing my dreams.

“It opened doors to new opportunities that I didn’t know existed before,” shared student Padrianna Hawthore.   

The day long youth summit was free to the 47 students who attend the Michelle Obama Early College Program. The students selected from nine breakout sessions that focused on innovation, leadership, art, service and entrepreneurship. During the sessions they learned from industry experts and then participated in related activities such as coding, creating style boards for celebrity clients, hosting a movie premiere fundraiser and opening a new school.

“These students were amazing,” said Dartagan Winford, photographer and graphic designer. “The were so engaged and excited about what I was presenting. They had tons of questions. I definitely want to come back and help out as much as I can.”

The Michelle Obama Early College Program is the first of its kind in JPS. The school, which open this past August, is located on the campus of Tougaloo College. Students who are accepted into the program earn their high school diploma in the first two years and spend the last two years of school either completing an Associates Degree or earning college credit hours.

“Young, Gifted & Empowered has built a network of individuals who are really making a difference in the world and we’ve been wanting to host a youth summit for the last few years. The Michelle Obama Early College Program was the perfect school for us,” said Shameka Reed, YG&E founder. “ I know the students were inspired by the speakers, but after speaking with many of the presenters following their sessions, they were the ones who had been inspired by the students.”

This summer YG&E will sponsor a three day arts, culture and innovation summer camp for the youth summit participants. The camp will be free of charge to the participants.

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