Letter: Portage County NAACP awards scholarships to local graduating seniors

image of seven people standing and two seated in front of them, posing in business attire for a formal picture in front of the NAACP seal
Back row, left to right: Dr. Geraldine Hayes Nelson, Olivia Gallardo, Breanna Larkin, Sharlene Ramos Chesnes, Joitashe Miller, Zakya Jones, Brianna Boykin Front row, left to right: Tyonna Caples, Jade Coates. Picture courtesy of Brad Bolton

The Portage County NAACP held its 2021 scholarship celebration May 15 at Ravenna High School. Brianna Boykin was the keynote speaker. Scholarship recipients included Joitashe Miller, Tyonna Caples, Zakya Jones and Breanna Larkin of Ravenna High School; Jade Coates of Windham High School; and Olivia Gallardo of Theodore Roosevelt High School.

Joitashe Miller, Ravenna High School: Joitashe has dreams of pursuing her dream to become an adolescent therapist at Kent State. She volunteered at the Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast and Ravenna High School Day of service at Coleman Professional Center. Joitashe is a member of the “Black Diamonds” student group. Joitashe received the NAACP Albert Peoples Memorial Scholarship and a computer scholarship.

Tyonna Caples, Ravenna High School: Tyonna will be attending Kent State. She was the Recipient of the NAACP Nancy Hansford Memorial Scholarship. She is a four-year member of the Kent State University Upward Bound Program and Key Club. She desires to complete her studies in biological sciences and become a marine biologist. Tyonna has been an academic letter winner (GPA 3.0 or higher) for the past three years at Ravenna High School, and she also received the Deseree Liddell Scholarship. Tyonna graduated with honors English.

Breanna Larkin, Ravenna High School: Breanna will be attending the University of Akron. During high school she participated in the Key Club and volunteered in her community. Breanna was also a member of the National Honor Society. Breanna received the NAACP Albert Peoples Memorial Scholarship and a computer scholarship. She plans to major in nursing.

Jade Coates, Windham High School: Jade is a graduate of Windham High School. She is a member of the Kent State University Upward Bound Program. Jade was selected to receive the NAACP Barb and Jim Geisey Scholarship Award. Jade participated in the Windham Community Clean-Up Day and various community events. She will be attending Youngstown State University.

Olivia Gallardo, Theodore Roosevelt High School: Olivia, a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School, was the recipient of the Kent State University NAACP Scholarship. This scholarship provides the student with four years of full tuition. Olivia also received a book scholarship from the Portage County NAACP. Olivia participated in Girls Who Code, Drama Club and the Environmental Club during her time at Roosevelt. Olivia is the first Latino student to receive the Portage County NAACP Scholarship. She has been accepted at Kent State as a biochemistry major.

Zakya Jones, Ravenna High School: Zakya, a graduate of Ravenna High School, will be attending Kent State as a public health major. He plans to pursue a career in nursing. Jakya is also a recipient of the Deseree Liddell Scholarship for his academic achievement. Currently he volunteers at University Hospitals.

— Geraldine Hayes Nelson, Portage County NAACP President