Midlands students honored for excellence and achievement - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Midlands students honored for excellence and achievement

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On Saturday over 600 students from across the Midlands were honored by the Columbia Urban League during the 2014 Young and Gifted Program held at Brookland Baptist Church.

"I think the most defining legacy of black history month is achievement," said J.T. McLawhorn with the Columbia Urban League.

Manning High School senior Regina James said she appreciates the honor.

"For all my hard work and dedication that I put forth, that someone actually noticed," said James, who is in the ROTC and Beta Club.

For 29 years, the Columbia Urban League has honored excellence for Black History Month in the form of high school seniors.

"You have to know where you've come from and know your roots in order to know what you actually want to do and what it means to be you," said W.J. Keenan High School senior Samanuel Martin.

McLawhorn said success can be challenging for some.

"It is very challenging today to be successful," McLawhorn said. "Success covers five areas: academic is one, leadership, the arts, athletics and technology."

The students honored come from all walks of life with different accomplishments.

"I've been able to be active in school, have high grades and be active within the community," Martin said. "Because in the end, success and what makes you happy is all up to you."

The majority of our young students are doing what is right, McLawhorn said.

"They are achievers, they believe in doing things in a proper way," McLawhorn said. "They are not criminals, they are not thugs and we are sending a message that we cannot characterize, we cannot stigmatize."

And the students know what it takes to succeed.

"It's not just being a leader, you have to have integrity at all times, you have to do the right thing," James said.

McLawhorn said students must continue to be encouraged because this is only the first step on this journey.

"There are going to be some challenges out there that are going to try to derail them but they must continue to keep focus, continue to do those kinds of things that have made them successful to this point," McLawhorn said.

The keynote speaker for this year's event was Dr. Jeffery Guy, an assistant professor at USC in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.

Dr. Guy spoke about his own path to success and served to inspire the students to achieve.

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