For Alice Westbrooks who also serves as both the Epsilon Phi Zeta Educational Foundation (EPZEF) director-at-large and president of Epsilon Phi Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., education and civic duties are fundamental.
“With education you can do anything and if you have a healthy understanding of your value in the community, you know that you count and so does every vote,” she said. “Our sorority knows it is important to place value on the next generation so that they benefit from the decisions we make today. I implore everyone to not only rock the vote but to invest in our young people to promote change.”
Earlier in the year, Westbrook and her Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, elegantly dressed in their signature blue and white, hosted a tea to raise scholarship money for students and recognize unsung champions of the community at a site overlooking Lake Merritt in downtown.
With Zeta officials in attendance, including Pacific Regional Director Zakkiyyah Nazeeh and Norcal State Director Desiree St. Louis, the organization highlighted the commitment to excellence of five students with scholarships.
Recipients included UC Berkeley student Leilani Noel, who plans to start a nonprofit promoting Black entrepreneurship and Berkeley High School graduate, Pasha Imani Borden who studies political science at UC Merced. “I plan to hopefully become the first African American female Supreme Court Justice,” said Borden.
Texas Southern University student Chanesse Gillette also received a scholarship and plans to pursue a career in respiratory therapy and KIPP King Collegiate High School graduate Niara Tomlinson attends Hampton University majoring in Nursing. “My goal is to become a neo-natal nurse and open up a business of concierge nurses,” said Tomlinson.
Scholarship recipient Simoya Harris attends California State University East Bay (CSUEB) and considers herself a motivator. “I want to show others that they can make it no matter what challenges they have faced.”
Honorees of the community included Branden and Remi Henderson of Elite Fitness Studio, Oakland District 6 Councilmen Loren Taylor and Oakland project, MISSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting & Serving Sexually Exploited Youth.)
MISSEY Executive Director Jennifer B. Lyle shared startling statistics on sexual exploitation at the local and national level.
Forty-nine percent of the youth that are trafficked in the United States are Black girls and young women,” she said.