Optimism Goes a Long Way

Armani Black, Samira Yusuf, Tha Dah Loo, and Raymond Perez

Family, friends, and supporters gathered on the evening of November 8th at the St. Paul Friend of Youth Foundation’s 2011 Youth Appreciation Awards Dinner to recognize its 15 scholarship winners: St. Paul high school seniors who have succeed academically and civically in the face of adversity. Among the recognized students were four Genesys Works Young Professionals: Armani Black, intern at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota; Raymond Perez, intern at Capella University; Samira Yusuf, intern at UnitedHealth Group; and Tha Dah Loo, intern at Dorsey & Whitney. 

Students engaged in discussions on their experiences and goals over dinner before St. Paul school superintendent Valeria Silva gave her opening remarks to start the program. She congratulated the students and encouraged them to “never give up." Despite having experienced challenges such as living apart from their families, encountering racism, and lacking a strong support system, all the honorees have gone above and beyond their peers to volunteer in their communities, stay involved in extra-curricular activities, and succeed in their classes. These students all have one thing in common: they are optimistic about the future.

When asked what motivates her to continue through challenging times, Samira replied that it is the opportunity to prove wrong those who doubted that she can succeed. Now, top of her class, she still wants to achieve at a higher level; she plans to do so by going to college next fall. Her Genesys Works peers agree with her that it is the desire for a successful future that motivates them to work 20 hours a week at their internships, turn in school assignments, and complete college and scholarship applications. They believe that the work they put in now will lead to a deserving future.

Optimist Club member John Tillotson with Young Professionals
Through the contributions of generous supporters at the Optimist Club of St. Paul and many businesses, each honoree will be awarded a $1,500 scholarship to use towards higher education. Genesys Works - Twin Cities thanks the St. Paul Friend of Youth Foundation and its supporters for helping Armani, Raymond, Samira, and Tha Dah on their path to college.

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