Chevron’s Black History Awareness Celebration on Feb. 22 highlighted the 2012 recipients of the William King Scholarship awards.
Four awards were given to seniors from local high schools: Arianna Bell and Sydney Taylor from Salesian High, Darren Sims from Hercules High and Jael Agbabiaka from Middle College High in San Pablo.
Latressa Alford from Congressman George Miller’s Office gave each recipient a special certificate of achievement.
The event was attended by Chevron employees and contractors as well as Richmond city officials, including Councilmember Nat Bates, and several of Chevron’s nonprofit partners.
The guest speaker was Josetta Jones, Chevron Senior Counsel with the Intellectual Practice Group, who encouraged the students “to embrace the past, educate the present and enrich the future.”
Jones used examples drawn from personal experience and family history to challenge young people to be the best they could be and then reach out and give back to their community.
She described how her mother brought recipes from Ghana in Africa and influenced her as a youth growing up with a strong parental support system.
“As I grew older, I understood the importance of Black History Month,” she said. The importance was further illustrated hearing about my parents’ own challenges in the South during segregation.
“Both of my parents were denied admission to the segregated universities in the South when they wanted to pursue graduate degrees. Both were able to obtain their graduate degrees at predominantly white institutions in the North.”
Her father, who graduated from Northwestern University, taught her that it was not an option not to attend college, and they inspired her to excel academically.
She said those who inspired and helped her are the reason why she believes it is so important to be a mentor and a role model for the young and vice-chair of the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.
Also speaking at the event was Nigel Hearne, general manager of the Chevron Richmond Refinery, who underscored the importance of reaching out to help young people succeed.
“Our youth are our future, and they need help to rise to new challenges,” he said. “Many of you can serve as strong role models in this community, passing on important experiences and knowledge. Most likely, you were once helped along the way to get where you are today; so let’s remember the importance of helping others achieve their dreams.
“Not only is Chevron Richmond committed to the environment, we are also committed to contributing to the social and economic development of the Richmond community and surrounding areas. We believe that providing community support, both through financial assistance and personal involvement is our responsibility as a good neighbor.”