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Cheyney University Senior Represents PA as White House HBCU All-Star

February 12, 2014

The only Pennsylvanian selected, Cheyney University senior Ahn-yea Graham is now an ambassador of President Obama's White House Initiative on HBCU's

The only Pennsylvanian selected, Cheyney University senior Ahn-yea Graham is now an ambassador of President Obama's White House Initiative on HBCU's

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) selected its first class of HBCU All-Stars and Cheyney University senior Ahn-Yea Graham was the only student chosen from the state of Pennsylvania.  As one of 75 students named as a 2014 HBCU All-Star, Graham beat out nearly 300 other students from around the country because of his accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement.  He and the other HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative by providing outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource.

“Engaging with the next generation of leaders who will graduate from HBCUs and go on to make meaningful contributions to society is crucial to the success of our community, our country and our global competitiveness,” said George Cooper, executive director of the WHIHBCUs. “It is a privilege to announce these 75 students who have demonstrated a commitment to both their own academic achievement and making a difference in their communities, and we look forward to working with them as partners in advancing President Obama’s college completion goal.”

Over the course of the next year, through social media and their relationships with community-based organizations, Graham and his cohorts will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential. In addition, the All-Stars will participate in regional events and web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the WHIHBCUs, other Initiative staff and professionals from a wide range of disciplines. They will also have opportunities to engage with other scholars to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

The 21-year-old Graham, a Chester, PA native, is overjoyed that he will serve as an ambassador
of the White House Initiative on HBCU's through January 2015. "It's very humbling to receive this award. It only reinforces the fundamental principle that hard work pays off," the student leader remarked.  

Confident, driven and competent, Graham is highly involved on campus and in the community, while maintaining a competitive GPA, excelling in the Keystone Honors Academy and holding key leadership roles in various organizations. He is the President of PA's first Collegiate 100 chapter of 100 Black Men of America., Inc., which he helped bring to Cheyney University, and Vice President of the Brotherhood Mentoring Program. Last year, he served as president of Cheyney University's student government and received the Provost’s Award for Leadership. This past summer, Graham served as an intern at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs with the United States Department of Labor. He has helped many students get involved on campus and unlock leadership potential that they did not even know they possessed. 

"I hope that this award and my hard work shows that no matter what your circumstances are, you can still rise to meet your expectations and rise above them."

Graham and the other All-Stars will participate in The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA) Summit Series on Improving Education for African American Children and Youth. Cosponsored by Ebony magazine, the summit series is being launched to identify ways to improve the academic achievement of African American students and better prepare them for college and career. The series will bring together leaders in education, business and other fields for conversations about what is needed to keep students engaged in school and supported in learning and development opportunities beginning at birth. The summits will also highlight individuals and organizations that are successfully supporting educational excellence for African Americans. A third goal is to focus on creating opportunities for parents, grandparents, guardians, and other caring adults in the community to increase the number African Americans who graduate from high school prepared for future success.

To accomplish President Obama’s ambitious goal of America again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, African American students have to be better prepared for college and career through raising standards for our nation’s schools. In July 2012, President Obama launched the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to help accelerate national efforts to support African American students.

After graduating from Cheyney in May, Graham will work in Philadelphia with City Year, an AmeriCorps non-profit program that is education-focused and unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service to keep students in school and on track to graduation.  "I will be working in the classroom assisting students," he says.  After that, he hopes to attend law school and pursue JD and MBA degrees.