Sixty-eight middle and high school students from Somerset and Hunterdon counties were honored for their achievements at the 26th Annual Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Awards Reception, held April 6 at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in Branchburg. The evening featured a keynote address by Dr. Gloria Boseman, PhD, RN, who has been delivering healthcare services to the underserved and underrepresented urban communities for more than 30 years. Her work has focused on urban health and lifestyle behaviors. The National Council of Negro Women and RVCC initiated the Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Awards program to pay tribute to the outstanding attainments of students in the two counties.
The awards are named in honor of Paul Robeson, a Princeton native who grew up in Somerville and graduated from Somerville High School and Rutgers University. The awards, sponsored by the Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Social Justice at RVCC, are given in four areas in which Robeson excelled: scholarship, the arts, community service and athletics. In addition, special “Renaissance Scholars” awards are given to students who excel in a number of disciplines. This year a special honor, the Mrs. Evelyn Field Visionary Award, was awarded to Noelle Golden of Hunterdon Central Regional High School. The award is in honor of Evelyn S. Field, a founding member of the RVCC Board of Trustees who passed away in December. Mrs. Field, who served on the Board for more than 40 years, was a dynamic and compassionate advocate for promoting diversity and equality on campus. In 1990 she established the Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Program to preserve Paul Robeson’s legacy as a role model for excellence. The 68 students were nominated for awards by their guidance counselors, teachers and administrators. A special committee of RVCC faculty and administrators selected the award recipients. The following middle school students received special recognition: Arts Tevin Ighalo, Somerville Middle School Briana McGuire, Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School Athletics Makayla Choy, Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School Kyle Murray, Somerville Middle School Community Service Kyra Eason, Franklin Middle School Tracy Rasare, Readington Middle School Scholarship Rachel Amedume, J.P. Case Middle School Michael Lane, Franklin Middle School Renaissance Nicole Harris, Warren Middle School Daniel Duncan, North Plainfield Middle School The following high school students received special recognition: Arts Faizah Holmes, North Hunterdon Regional High School Diamond Tucker, Bound Brook High School Athletics Kelsey Vieira, Hillsborough High School Christopher Warren, Academy for Health and Medical Sciences at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School Community Service Sinclair Ray, Somerville High School Jada Abdullah, Franklin High School Gregory Williams, Franklin High School Scholarship Melissa White, Franklin High School Gabrielle Jacob, Academy for Health and Medical Sciences at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School Renaissance Catherine Hawkes, Hillsborough High School Earnest Wiggins III, Bound Brook High School Mrs. Evelyn Field Visionary Award Noelle Golden, Hunterdon Central Regional High School Paul Robeson, son of an escaped slave, rose from humble beginnings to become a superior athlete, scholar, orator and linguist and a star in theater, film and on the concert stage. His performances in The Emperor Jones, Show Boat and Othello remain theatrical landmarks. Robeson also was an outspoken and controversial advocate of civil rights for African-Americans and an international humanitarian. In the 1950s, during the McCarthy era, he was persecuted for his political ideas and prevented from working. His passport was revoked for eight years because the US government considered his activities in the 1930s and ’40s treasonable. Throughout Robeson’s career, he remained convinced that “art can bridge the gulf between white and black races.” Robeson died in Philadelphia in 1976 at the age of 77. Dr. Gloria Boseman is the recipient of numerous awards and commendations, including being honored by the New Jersey League for Nursing as an Outstanding Nurse (2009) and the Chi Eta Phi national nursing sorority as an “Honorary Member.” She serves on several Boards and is a former Governor’s appointee to the New Jersey’ Collaborative Center for Nursing. She currently serves on the Essex Valley East Orange General Hospital Board of Trustees. Dr. Boseman has a long tenure with New Jersey City University Nursing and has served as a former chairperson and graduate coordinator. She currently teaches both entry-level and seniorlevel courses in Nursing, and also works with the Women and Gender Studies Department. Dr. Boseman is a frequently requested consultant and regional and national presenter, offering workshops on such topics as HIV/AIDS, self-esteem, parenting, body image, sexuality, life planning, depression, curriculum development, and health disparity and health promotion for minority populations. Her audiences have included professionals, academicians, and faithbased and grass roots organizations. The Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Social Justice was founded in 1999 to preserve Paul Robeson’s legacy in the area where he came of age as an artist, athlete, orator, and scholar. The Institute envisions a global community of diverse cultures that embodies, through attitudes and behaviors, Paul Robeson’s ideals, beliefs, values, and vision for a world of justice and peace. The Paul Robeson Resource Room, located in RVCC’s Evelyn S. Field Library, is an information center for Robeson’s national and worldwide activities. Established in 2003, the Resource Room serves as a repository for educational materials, historical records and memorabilia of Robeson’s Somerville years and the worldwide accomplishments of people of African-American descent. Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 50 years, RVCC is an educational and cultural center that is nationally recognized for its innovative programming, service to the community and environmental leadership. The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, professional development and personal enrichment courses. The College also has a performing arts center and planetarium. RVCC is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community’s businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.