Rising Star

Dear Reader,

This summer was one of the most fulfilling summers of my short 17-year life. Not only did I choose a scholarly mentorship program over playing competitive basketball, but entering that program led me to other initiatives that helped shape me as a person more than one could imagine. In the Summer Mentorship Program, I met two beautiful, intelligent young ladies named Joanne and Anthonette, who introduced me to the Nubian Book Club of Markham, ON, which is a group of inspirational young adults led headstrong into the future by Ms. Cardoza and Mr. Skirret; two of the most caring adults I’ve ever met.

When I first agreed to attend a book club meeting, I did not know what to expect. In all honesty, I thought I was agreeing to having overprotective parents preach to me about how to be a good kid. However, I am glad to say that book club was much more than that. Book club met every expectation I had, and blew it out of the water. The warm environment that is felt upon first entering the tight-knit group of people gives off a magnetic feeling that seems to pull you in. Book club could adequately be described as having its own gravitational pull, because it seems as though once I entered, it was difficult to leave. It only takes one visit to book club for one to be able to see the admiration and adoration that the youth have for Mr. Skirret and Ms. Cardoza, as they listen intently to the words of wisdom that the adults have to share. Better yet, it only takes one visit to see the sparkle in all of the adults’ eyes when they listen to the youth speak intelligent words of thought resembling the solid upbringing that many of them have. Book club is definitely a gathering of young minds, lining up to draw out of the well of wisdom that the more aged folk have to share.

Book club was like a live, 3D mind-map, revolving around topics stemming from Hill Harper’s Letters to a Young Brother. Young men send Harper letters asking for advice regarding different issues teens face in life, ranging from sex to self-confidence. Harper replies with inspirational stories and words of wisdom, often aided by quotes from other celebrities, which include but are not limited to Barack Obama and Mary J. Blige. Not only does Harper’s advice help clear up questions of the many boys in his book, but it also addresses topics that everyday youth like ourselves have to deal with on a daily basis. Harper’s advice is made more wholesome when it is accompanied by the wisdom of the numerous adults in the circle.

As a young black man growing up in today’s society, book club is more than just a bi-weekly meeting designed to keep me busy in the idol summer hours. Book club was beneficial to me in a way that most youth can relate to. It acted as a growth catalyst, catapulting my mind from that of a boy’s, to that of a man’s. With the help of the adoring intelligent more experienced people that give valuable input in the circle; I have begun to see the world in a new light. For example, it has become clear in my mind that with the right motivation, there is no occupation or goal I cannot achieve. I truly appreciate what Mr. Skirret and Ms. Cardoza do for the youth of today, specifically for the personal growth that book club catalyzed over the summer months. I anticipate that this will be an ever-growing initiative, set for a strong return next summer. In closing, I would like to leave you with the most significant thing I learned this summer. It is as follows; “The mind can achieve what the mind can believe” and that is the motto that I have vowed to live the rest of my life by.

Sincerely yours,
DeJaun Sutherland


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