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19 Sep 2010

Three area Students win Tavis Smiley Foundation Scholarship

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September 19, 2010 Category: Oasis Posted by:

The Tavis Smiley Foundation (TSF) has awarded three area students with scholarships for their academic achievement, leadership, and service to Philadelphia. Each student has received a scholarship ranging from $1,000-$5,000. This year the Tavis Smiley Foundation selected Rheana Kelley of Northwest Philadelphia and Lauren Melendez of West Philadelphia to receive their 2010 Smiley Scholarships.


To become Smiley Scholars, Rheana and Lauren were selected from a competitive applicant pool of students who have done exceptional work in the classroom and in their communities. Also, Brittany Redfern of Northwest Philadelphia has received a $1,000 scholarship from the TSF for her work with spreading awareness about sickle cell anemia in African American communities. Each of these students are members of Philadelphia’s Youth Action Team (YA), a youth-led community development non-profit operated by high school and college students.


“I’m very proud of the team’s new Tavis Smiley Foundation scholarship recipients. Their selection for these scholarships, speak to their immense commitment to their academic coursework and service to others,” says Youth Action Team President Anthony Phillips. “As members of Youth Action, they have explored the significance of community work and have proven their capacity to organize effectively in communities of color. Most importantly, they have communicated to those in their peer group that education, leadership, and activism are essential to positive social change in their communities. They represent the best of Youth Action.”


Rheana Kelley has been awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the TSF. Kelley is a recent graduate of Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy (MSJA) in Flourtown, PA. At MSJA, Rheana was a Presidential Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. For her outstanding artistic talents, Rheana has been awarded for her 3D design artwork. Her artwork can be seen hanging up in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. As a member of Youth Action (YA), Rheana has especially enjoyed organizing YA’s Annual Youth Summit and Toy Drive. Rheana aspires to become a plastic surgeon. She now attends St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.


Lauren Melendez’s scholarship total has yet to be announced. Melendez, a native of West Philadelphia aspires to obtain a career in broadcast journalism. She was A Better Chance Scholar and recent honors graduate of Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr, PA. To support her journalism endeavors, during her junior year Lauren participated in the Philadelphia Daily News Urban Journalism program. Her community service involvement includes volunteering at a service week in Washington D.C., spending a month in Ecuador learning about the culture and needs of the country, and repainting schools, building homes in Virginia with Habitat for Humanity, and participating in a summer civics and volunteer awareness program called Spark the Wave. Lauren now majors in broadcast journalism at Syracuse University in New York.


Brittany Redfern is a junior political science major and honors program student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. On a mission to improve and conquer the social issues that challenge many inner-city communities, Brittany majors in political science and serves as vice president of Youth Action in Philadelphia. She has also been a member of The Tavis Smiley Foundation National Youth Advisory Council. Her goal is to become an advocate in educating her community on the tangible strategies which can be implemented to improve the environment in which they live. Her aspirations include a career in the areas of public health or law, specifically to represent the minority population. Brittany is a manager for the Morgan State Bears women’s basketball team.


For more information on Youth Action please contact the team’s Spokesperson Gavin Grant by email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-888-Youth90 ext 901.

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