From Girls to Young Women

From left to right: Mieasha Harris, Auna Harris, Supervisor John Gioia, Richmond’s Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Vicki Winston, Sharon Kidd, Carla Thomas.

By Mieasha Harris Earlier this month, Girl’s Inc. of West Contra Costa County congratulated its first group of young girls for completing the College Bound Girls Program (CBG). All four of the graduating seniors in the program completed high school and have been accepted into a college or university. A host of families, friends, elected officials, students and staff attended Girl’s Inc. third annual End of the Year Celebration at the Richmond Recreation Complex to recognize and support the CBG graduates; “We Are on Our Way” was the chosen theme of the night. Richmond’s Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Supervisor John Gioia congratulated the girls and offered encouraging words for completing the program and high school. Like many of the graduates, Jocelyn Perez is the first in her family to graduate high school and go to college. She will be attending San Francisco State University in the fall to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatrician. “Girls Inc. has taught me that girls have the ability of being ‘strong, smart, and bold,’ ” Perez said. “Strong in the sense of being able to overcome any challenge that you encounter; smart because we as girls are intelligent…and bold in the form of being brave and learning to become an actual leader.” Featured speaker Xavier Abrams, Vice President of Mechanics Bank in Richmond, spoke about her childhood years at Girls Inc., learning about etiquette, and how those skills came in handy later on in her life. “Growing up, there was no one to tell me to go to college. So when I joined this organization, I felt like I could do something with my life,” said Annelise Williams, who plans to become a Forensic DNA Analyst. She will be attending Solano Community College in the fall. The event was marked with Zumba entertainment, a slide show highlighting the organization’s progress, a silent auction, and raffle. Food was provided by Portomex Restaurant and Corn Cravings. CBG graduate Alia Edington will be attending University of California, Santa Cruz and plans to become a doctor. Edington said, “After joining Girls Inc. and Cal Maritime’s Summer Academic Enrichment Program, I became more active in school, changed my group of friends, and raised my grades from a 2.8 to a 4.2 GPA.” All graduates received plaques, certificates from Congressman George Miller and Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, scholarships, a selected book from Girls’ Inc. Executive Director Mieasha Harris, and a CBG t-shirt designed by graduate Malaya Harris, who will attend Expressions College for animation. For information on Girl’s Inc. summer/fall programs and various after-school activities, call 510-232-5440 or email
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