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Spotlight on Student Leaders 2000.

There were many outstanding African-American student leaders in the Class of 2000 and we would like to showcase several of them. These students are not only honored for their academic excellence and achievement but also for the good deeds they do in service to others. They are well-rounded individuals who aspire to greatness on all fronts, both socially and academically. Selfish ambition has no place in this group. In fact, if all of these students have one thing in common, it is a desire to see the whole do well. Each has an attitude that propels him/her to success. When they see something wrong on campus, they work to improve it; when they see a friend in need, they provide help; when they see something they want in life, they work hard to get it. We salute the following student leaders.

Louis Sterling

Classification: Year 2000 Graduate

School: Howard University

Major: Finance

Louis Sterling is no stranger to hard work. As an intern with Goldman, Sachs & Co., he dealt with the stress of Wall Street and put in hours most professionals would shy away from. However, Sterling didn't complain about putting in 14 or more hours a day. "It's stressful but it's what you make of it," he remarked. "It is a very demanding and time consuming industry but I think it is definitely one that you can thrive in if you are successful."

His work at Goldman, Sachs & Co. proves that he has a high tolerance for stress and an extraordinary work ethic. Both are needed to accomplish what he has accomplished during his undergraduate years at Howard University. He is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and Golden Key National Honor Society. He has served as the undergraduate trustee on Howard University's Board of Trustees, tutored fellow students and served as a Campus Pal. If that's not enough, he managed to maintain a 4.0 G.P.A. As undergraduate trustee, Sterling represented the interests of the students to a Board of Trustees which had among its members Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, Phylicia Rashaad, Debbie Allen and other well known, accomplished people. "It was difficult because I walked a fine line between the students and administration because I had to report back to both," he pointed out. "On top of that, you have to be prepared and professional because you're dealing with highly influenti al people."

Some believe that to attain personal success, you must focus solely on your goals and forget the needs of others. Louis Sterling disproves that theory. He is very appreciative of the people who have helped him along the way. That recognition is the driving force behind his desire forgiving to others. For instance, he served as a Campus Pal because as an incoming freshman, the program helped in his transition to college life. His response to the question: "What motivates you?"... makes it even clearer. "I recently had a conversation with a friend and we both agreed that we should at least achieve more than our parents did," he stated. "If you look at the discrimination they had to face and the things they had to contend with, at the very least we should achieve more. With that being said, why stop there?"

Sterling is now working as an investment banker for Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Toi L. Watkins

Classification: Year 2000 Graduate

School: Morgan State University

Major: Telecommunications

It's not easy to be a full-time student, work, and remain active in a variety of activities on and off campus. It's even more difficult to do all of these things well. With that in mind, it's safe to say that recently it probably hasn't been easy to be Toi Watkins. Her work attests to her dedication to embodying a characteristic that she says leaders must possess. "A good leader should lead without excuses," she stated.

Time doesn't allow for excuses when you're putting together the impressive list of accomplishments that Watkins has assembled during her college years. She's a member of a host of Honor Societies (Golden Key National Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and more), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the National Association of Black Broadcasters and Journalists. She's served as the managing editor of Morgan State's Spokesman newspaper and Miss Morgan State University.

Watkins has been more than the "run-of-the-mill" member in her organizations and in the positions that she's held. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., she played a number of important roles. She served as a reporter for The Ivy Leaf, a national publication circulated among members of the sorority and she served as a member on the National Alpha YouthPac Board, where she made decisions on who would receive scholarship money through the organization's Educational Advancement Foundation.

It was probably during her reign as Miss Morgan State University that she made the most widespread impression. In this role she implemented and coordinated student oriented events and programs such as open discussion forums and social events. In addition, she served as an ambassador for the school to the outside community. These accomplishments are indicative of Watkins' level of commitment. With such achievements, it's no surprise that she is confident about the legacy she has left behind. "I left footprints and I have no regrets about what I've done at Morgan State. I tried to do what I could to make a difference."

Watkins is currently pursuing her master's degree at Jackson State University in mass communications. Her future plans include becoming a news anchorwoman and obtaining her doctorate.

Quinton E. James

Classification: Year 2000 Graduate

School: Tennessee State University

Major: Computer Science

"I'm nobody special," said Quinton James. He has probably never made a statement farther from the truth while holding four leadership positions in the student government, including vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA). James served as vice president of the Computer Science Club, chaplain of the Concerned Students Association, treasurer of his chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and a university peer counselor. Furthermore, he was awarded the distinct honor of being Alpha Phi Alpha's "Brother of the Year" because of his versatility, accomplishments as an intern and record of community service within the fraternity. If that doesn't entitle him to being considered special, there are few students who can make that claim.

Maybe he doesn't consider himself special because he sees something special in everyone else. In fact, much of his work has revolved around bringing out the best in others. This is exemplified most by his work as vice president of the SGA. The position called for him to serve as the chairperson of the General Assembly, which is composed of all of the school's organizations. By stressing the importance of the role that each organization played on campus, he was able to do away with the lethargic attitudes that existed among many of the assembly's members. "I'm most proud of the fact that we took the apathy Out of the general assembly," he said. "As a result, we had a lot more activity and involvement from its members."

When he spoke about what motivates him, he revealed why he's so successful in bringing out the best in others. "I like making other people happy and though I want success, I don't feel comfortable being on top if I'm the only one up there," he stated. "So I strive to serve others and not just make myself better."

James is currently working on a master's degree in computer science at Vanderbilt University. Afterwards, he intends to join the ranks of corporate America.

Tracee L. Thompson

Classification: Year 2000 Graduate

School: Hampton University

Major: Psychology

Some people have trouble balancing college work and fun. Tracee Thompson doesn't have that problem. In fact, she seems to have mastered it. She not only maintained a 3.5 G.P.A., but she also played a major part in providing social activities for students on Hampton University's campus. That's just the beginning of her demonstration of a remarkable ability to balance and juggle. She is a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society and the Psi Chi National Honor Society. She served as Miss Hampton University, parliamentarian of the Student Union Board, was a member of the Student Leadership Program, and a member of the Hampton University Gospel Choir. Thompson was also active in the community working with the Peninsula Food Bank, and the Youth Development Center, which is an enrichment center that students attend before and after school.

Each year Miss Hampton University is required to put together a fashion show to earn money for fees necessary to participate in the Miss Virginia Pageant. Thompson took this opportunity and ran with it. Though she had never undertaken such a task, the event was a huge success. She sold out the venue and people are still talking about it. But more importantly, she used the opportunity to teach the children from the Youth Development Center a lesson. "The students came to the show and they were really impressed and excited. This showed them what hard work produces," she recalled. "It also showed them that though college is about learning, there is a fun aspect to it as well."

Thompson's work has definitely put her in the spotlight and that serves as motivation for her continued success. "I'm motivated by the fact that people are always watching me ,"she commented. "That inspires me to be the best that I can at whatever I do because I don't want to let anyone down, and I definitely don't want to let the Lord down because He's certainly always watching." After Thompson completes an MBA in marketing, she plans to work in the field of industrial marketing.

If all of the students highlighted in this article continue with the mindset that earned them a spot in this select group, they'll definitely make their mark on the world, just as they've done on their respective campuses. They bring to mind an old saying that describes three kinds of people and they fit in the last category: "There are those who dream about what happens, those who watch what happens and those who simply make things happen."

Curtis Doucette, Jr. is a contributing writer and freelance journalist.
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Author:Doucette, Jr., Curtis
Publication:The Black Collegian
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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