Brianna Rock, a senior at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville High School, was the winner of the 2012 MLK Youth Award and recipient of a $1,000 scholarship toward her college education. She was presented with her award at the annual MLK Youth Celebration Jan. 12 at UNC Asheville and recognized for her outstanding scholarship and accomplishments at the 2012 Prayer Breakfast at the Grove Park Inn Jan. 14.
Reflecting the Association’s 2012 theme of “Becoming the Beloved Community, Youth Award nominees were asked to write a short essay in response to the following prompt: “Central to the thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the concept of the ‘beloved community.’ How do your activities within the community reflect Dr. King’s concept of the beloved community?” Rock wrote, “I haven’t made a change only in my surroundings but also within myself . . . but I have trained my own soul to look outward.”
According to MLK Youth Awards chairperson Jane Fernandes, “Brianna’s home life has not always been easy or carefree. She has been raised primarily by her single mother, and there have been times when clothing, food, and heat have been luxuries rather than basic needs.” Yet at school, Brianna initiated an anti-bullying campaign wherein she and other members of the FYI (For Your Information) group organized seminars to educate classmates, and she has advocated to the school administration that students have a greater voice in solutions to issues facing the school.
Rock is on the steering committee planning a public commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Asheville. She has been the president of AVID (Advancing via Individual Determination) and has participated for three years in the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA).
Interested in a medical career, she was one of only eight students in Buncombe County selected to participate in the Minority Medical Mentoring program this past fall.
Ms. Rock was nominated by Ericka Germer, who works for the City of Asheville.
Three other students nominated for the MLK Youth Award were also honored with scholarships. Cyesha Baird at Reynolds High School won a $750-dollar award, and $500 awards were given to Curtis Johnson of Asheville High and Kindall Edmonds of Erwin.
Ms. Baird participates on the Student Council and in an organization called YES (Youth Empowered Solutions), and she has helped create nonviolent solutions to bullying by fostering a sense of “brotherhood” within the student body.
Mr. Johnson, son of a single parent, has spoken at the Changing Together Conference about the ASPIRE program’s impact on young black men by helping them establish connections in the wider community that lead to success.
Ms. Edmonds has organized and participated in countless community service projects for FCCLA, FFA and the Beta Club. One project led to visiting people who were “shut in” and providing services such as raking leaves, decorating their homes for holidays, addressing mail, and taking them meals.