Youth Leadership graduates Class XVII
By Christopher Edmunds
The Selma Times-Journal
While most high school students were preparing for graduation, a group of young leaders participated in a graduation of their own Tuesday at Wallace Community College.
The members of Youth Leadership Selma-Dallas County Class XVII each received a certificate and gave a short speech about their experiences in the program during the ceremony.
Nivory Gordon III, a senior from Selma High School, and Mary Logan Kelley, a junior from Morgan Academy, received the Harriet R. Bates award, named after the program’s co-founder, for their dedication and hard work.
“It’s an honor,” Kelley said. “I’ve loved being in this class. It makes you get outside of your bubble, and meeting new people is so much fun.”
Gordon said the award encouraged him to continue his work in the community.
“It shows that I’m heading in the right direction,” Gordon said. “One thing that will help me as I go off to school is that we had to do a lot of getting out of our comfort zone, so I’ll be ready to go talk to new people in a new place.”
Throughout the school year, students participating in the program met once a month to develop leadership skills and learn about their local community.
The students took trips to local businesses, visited the statehouse in Montgomery and volunteered around Selma.
“This group, for some reason, always made me laugh,” said Beth Wilson, executive director of Leadership Selma-Dallas County. “They had a good time, but they also buckled down when some work needed to be done.”
Wilson said leadership means more than just taking charge.
“When I think about leadership, I think not about standing in front of a crowd, but standing with the crowd and steering them all in the right direction,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Selma needs more young leaders to be active in the community.
“The only way for this community to survive is for people to start giving back,” she said. “If every person that still lives in Selma that has been through a Leadership program would come forward and start doing things for this community, you wouldn’t believe the changes we would have.”
Callie Nelson, assistant director of Leadership Selma-Dallas County, told the students about previous graduates who are now making positive change in their respective communities.
“It means a lot to see people come through the program and be successful,” Nelson said. “Communities that are successful have lots of leaders, not just in elected offices, but at all levels. We need students that do not sit back and wait for someone else to come in and make a difference.”
For more information about Leadership Selma-Dallas County, contact Nelson at 875-3200.