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Young Trailblazer Nominee

Shonciré Graham

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Nominations

Nominated by Eric Graham

“Academic and leadership success at Howard University”

My Black Colorado Interview

What schools do you attend?

I am a First-Year Freshman at Howard University.

What do you think others would say that they like the most about you? 

I think others would say they like how conversational I am. I enjoy speaking about a wide range of subjects and matters, for example:  to learn, to inform, to speculate, to laugh, to debate or just for fun. I think people appreciate this about me because I am always open to discuss and engage.

When you are not in a class, what are the things you enjoy being involved with?

I love Speech and Debate. Although starting college in a virtual environment was not expected or ideal, I did my best to connect with my professors and peers. I tried out and made the Howard University Speech and Debate Team and competed in my first collegiate debate in the Fall 2020 semester. I enjoy researching, wordsmithing, and having intellectually competitive debates. I also enjoy community service and networking with community members. Being involved with community initiatives allows me to learn through working with others.

What is the best advice someone has given you recently?

On December 29, 2020, my Great-Grandmother Mary Fulwood passed away in South Carolina at the age of 96. No matter the occasion or reason, every time she and I spoke on the phone, she reminded me to “Be Sweet and Be Good.” She lived a long life and always held strong to her traditional morals and shared them with me. This advice is special to me because it goes beyond what it initially sounds like. She reminded me to leave good impressions and to be kind to others and I understand this advice to be applicable despite whatever is ahead of me.

What is one thing you want to get better at?

As cliché as it sounds, I want to get better at organizing. This was a main goal of mine before the Fall 2020 semester, and I met the small steps I established for myself during that time. Being that these small changes have already made positive differences in the quality of my work, energy, and inspiration, I am excited to learn new ways to improve my overall organization.

What do you think is one piece of advice that you think adults need to hear, to help them connect with the younger generation better?

To connect with the younger generation better, adults should try to eliminate their preconceived notions and reservations about young people. The younger generation communicates in a specifically cultured variety of platforms and styles that could nearly seem foreign to adults attempting to engage with them. If adults want to educate, inspire, and connect with today’s youth, they ought to hear directly from them, come to an understanding, and go from there. The lessons, morals, and stories from adults and older generations are invaluable, however, messages can be lost in translation to younger audiences due to simple misunderstandings.

What accomplishments or awards are you most proud of?

In the Spring of 2019, I won the title of the Colorado Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)- Public Speaking State Champion. In the speech on, “building mental strength and confidence,” students were inspired to use it in their work.  I encountered in both local and state competitions. I am most proud of this accomplishment/award because it inspired me to pursue academic competitions with the same energy I had for athletic ones. It prompted me to realize a skill I was not fully aware I had.

What impact have you made in the community that you are most proud of?

For all four years of high school, I attended Falcon High School in District 49, which is a predominately white school east of Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a black student, there was no option to not be recognized or noticed, which yielded unique experiences and interactions. However, I used this inevitable circumstance to educate and unite. Over the span of its 100+ years of existence, my high school had never acknowledged Black History Month, and I am proud of the change and impact I made despite this. After months of pondering I built an effective proposal for my school administration regarding my idea of Black History Month Announcements. After it was approved, I gave interesting intercom announcements every February morning, which included: historical figures, their stories, and universally applicable quotes. Both teachers and students asked questions, supported me, and thanked me for taking the initiative to identify a potential issue and address it in a way that inspirationally united others.

What do you think you want to do for a career and why?

I want to be a lawyer, and as of now, specifically in the international law, trade, and policy sector. My interests in speaking, researching, and academia contribute to my career aspirations, however, being born and growing up for some time in Germany has always inspired me to connect with other cultures and to travel. Whether I choose international law or not, I know that I want to practice law.

How have your parents impacted your growth and development?

My parents have always been my top supporters,  regardless of what I am participating in or trying to achieve. While they were rather,  hands-on in my upbringing, they created a space for me to learn things while growing in the right space. By surrounding me with positive and driven people, my parents have never discouraged me from my ambitions but have always encouraged me to work for what I want.

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