By Joyce Kercheval
San Diego Delta Foundation, Inc.

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, in the Golden Pacific Ballroom of the Town and Country Resort, 20 of San Diego’s most promising future leaders were the entertainment and keynote speakers at the Leadership Development Intern Program’s (LDIP) culminating activity, 13th Annual Leadership Rites of Passage Ceremony. LDIP is sponsored by the San Diego Delta Foundation, Inc. (Delta Foundation). The future leaders are affectionately referred to as Interns. This year the Delta Foundation instructed, mentored, and nurtured six high school seniors: Lauren Brown, Jasmine Coatie, Lena Hilliard, Chavellia McMullen, Sherrice Mullins and Dallas Powell; six juniors: Amira Alexander, Aprile Corley, Camille Harris, Jada Irving, Corina Lard, and Lucy Williams; and eight sophomores: Chamia Alexander, Jazzay Buncom, Arshauna Candler, Sydney Coleman, Mallory Johnson, Caitlyn Keeve, Lauren Kelley and Aleana Monroe.

Guests were welcomed by Interns Lena Hilliard and Sherrice Mullins, Co-Presidents of the 2014 Leadership Program, followed by the audience singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Introduced by choreographer, Vera Mooring, the Interns, adorned in African fabric, performed a cultural and crowd-pleasing dance. A celebratory libation to our ancestors was then given by Intern Dallas Powell. The invocation was delivered by Intern Chavellia McMullen after which lunch was served. Intern Lauren Brown introduced the mistress of ceremonies and 2006 Alumna Intern, Shawna Ewell Feaster.

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To recognize and celebrate 100 years of service to the San Diego community, Mr. Rudolph Johnson, III, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Neighborhood House Association (NHA) was given a standing ovation. On behalf of the Delta Foundation and the Leadership program, he was also presented a plaque in honor of NHA’s and the Delta Foundation’s community partnership and their shared vision of youth development.

Following a delicious lunch, the Golden Pacific Ballroom stage became the location of “A Glimpse” the Delta Foundation’s signature T.V. Talk Show. The Interns, dressed in winter white blazers and black skirts, became T.V. anchors, talk show hosts, invited guests, and reporters on remote assignment. The audience was given an overview of the Interns’ activities over the past six months including workshops, community service activities, and social and cultural events they hosted and attended. Intern Corina Lard serenaded the audience with her solo, followed by a poem written and recited by Intern Mallory Johnson.

Upon completion of this overview, the Interns were formally presented to the community as the next generation of leaders. The high school seniors were dressed in formal attire, their resumes were read and their parents/guardians were introduced. This formal presentation culminated with the six seniors dancing a waltz with their fathers and male supporters.

The highlight of the Leadership Rites of Passage Ceremony was the awarding of book grants, academic awards, computers, printers, and achievement awards. All senior Interns will receive a laptop computer and printer upon graduation from high school and enrollment in college. They are also presented tiaras and crowned “Queen of Academics”. The Delta Foundation awarded over $28,000 in grants, awards and computer equipment at this year’s program.

To find out more about the Leadership Development Intern Program and receive an application, please email Mildred Neal at nealmj@aol.com.

Photos by Cheryl Peavy Williams: