The Next Great Success Story: National Achievers Society

The statewide National Achievers Society is a mentoring program that recognizes the academic excellence and cultural accomplishments of students of color. At Santa Fe College, National Achievers falls under the Center of Excellence.

The group recently held their graduation ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of 11 youth who had each been in the society for at least 10 years.

“Most of them have been with me since the second grade,” said John Cowart, director of the Center of Excellence. “It’s been wonderful to see the kids matriculate and mature.”

However, it hasn’t been an easy journey.

“As with many other black students, they’ve felt discouraged,” said Cowart. “In very subtle ways have been treated unfairly by teachers, but they tough it out.”

National Achievers connects students with adult mentors, helps students get more involved with their community, and introduces students of color to the academic, cultural, and social contributions of African-Americans and other minorities. It also gives minority youth an alternative to athletic rewards.

Among the Class of 2009 are:

Thomas Florence, a member of the Academy of Health Professions at Gainesville High School and a certified physical therapy aide; a member of the National Achievers Society Brain Bowl Team, and an up and coming Christian rapper. His goal is to become a physical therapist.

Jabrianna Cowart (John’s daughter), Buchholz High School – Jabrianna joined National Achievers in first grade; she received a high school senior 2009 congratulatory letter of excellence from Sen. Bill Nelson; she has a passion for working with children and is considering health care or education for a career. She will earn her AA from SFC before transferring to a university. She’s volunteered as an after school tutor, in a nursing home, at Ronald McDonald House and as a fundraiser for March of Dimes.

Temarius Sheppard, Eastside High School IB Program, member of the EHS basketball team, played in marching and concert band, member of the National Honor Society and active in Gator Trax with the University of Florida College of Engineering, several community service roles, plans to attend Morehouse College in the fall and major in engineering or pre-med.

Students are selected for National Achievers based on their grades and conduct; they must set a positive example for other students and be active in their community. Achievers are A or B students, with a minimum of two As and no Cs (unless the Cs are in advanced or honors courses). Achievers are sponsored for induction by adult mentors who agree to serve as a significant person in the Achiever’s life and have an active influence in the student’s academic life.

New students are inducted each April; most are in elementary school when they are tapped, but students can enter at any age, as young as first grade. (The majority are inducted in elementary school.) They remain in the society through 12th grade.

For more information, please contact John Cowart, Director, SFC Center of Excellence, at 352-395-5513.

2009 National Achievers Graduates – PDF