In a year that had more than its fair share of bad news, Natasha Foster is beaming with hope for students in the YMCA Achievers college readiness program. Foster oversees the program which affords students plenty of opportunities to meet, network with and be tutored by professionals some of whom work in the very industries the students aspire to pursue. Throughout the year the achievers also do various community service projects, college visits, resume workshops, ACT/SAT Prep, and listen to inspirational speakers.

“This year I have watched these young adults speak with such maturity and confidence. I know they have experienced disappointments and discouragement but they never gave up. Not reaching their full potential was never an option. Most of the students, I have worked with since their 9th grade year. It makes me proud that four years of preparation resulted in them graduating from high school and being accepted to college,” Foster said.

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“My role as Achievers Director has been much more than a career. Being a first generation college student myself, I have first hand experience with the fear of failure and not being prepared for the life after high school. Overall the students have shown me great responsibility in their own success. Throughout the program we constantly discuss taking ownership in their future. Of course, I will always get nervous about their safety. Most of the students have decided to move out of the city or even out of the state. I am proud of the ambition but know that it's a whole big world out there. The seniors have proven to me that they can ‘Take on the world.’”

Usually Foster and her team hold a banquet at the end of the year and honor all of the senior achievers. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they were unable to do that this year. Instead, Foster stopped by their homes, put a sign in their yard, and gave them a goody bag/certificate.

This year’s graduating class in the Montgomery YMCA Achievers program are:

• Aylon Gipson graduated from BTW Magnet High School and will be attending Morehouse College.

• Jayla Morris graduated from BTW Magnet High School and will be attending Spelman College.

• Mike Davis Jr. graduated from Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School and will be attending Alabama A&M.

• Jabril Long graduated from Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School and will be attending Alabama A&M.

• Kyrell Felder graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and will be joining the U.S. Army.

• Erin Jefferson graduated from BTW Magnet High School will be attending UAB.

• Richard Seaton graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and will be joining the Fire Fighter Academy.

• Keirra Jackson graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and will be attending Trenholm State.

• Christina Prince graduated from Park Crossing High School and will be attending ASU.

• Jordan Yates graduated from Carver High School and will be attending Troy University.

• Ka’Lony Palmer graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and will be attending Birmingham Southern (she’s extra awesome. She was on the Man of the Year Committee for 2 years and went on a trip to London for the Y175 celebration).

• Mekia Tolliver graduated from Lee High School and will be attending Alabama A&M.

• Faith Graves graduated from Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School and will be attending Tuskegee University.

• Armonte Allen graduated from Jefferson Davis High School and will be joining the Fire Fighter Academy.

Foster added that they are always looking for volunteers and donors to serve more students each year. Anyone who is interested in making a targeted donation to the program or who wants to serve as a volunteer or mentor can visit ymcamontgomery.org for more information or contact Natasha Foster at nfoster@ymcamontgomery.org.