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Orlana Darkins and Darnell Drewery didn’t know that the many postings on Facebook from teenagers wanting to win Shyne Awards and become successful adults would lead to the first SHYNE Conference Workshop.

The SHYNE Awards recognizes the positive achievements of young adults aged 13-19. The initiative was begun three years ago by Darkins and Drewery.


“We kept getting messages from people on our Facebook page who wanted to know how to be successful,” said Darkins. “We kept getting the posts and we said that this could really turn into something.”

And it did.

The first SHYNE Success Conference & Talent Competition took place April 24 at the University of Pittsburgh William Pitt Union.

According to Darkins, about 80 students converged on the Pitt campus and participated in four workshops throughout the day.

The Most Likely to Succeed: The Frazier Formula for Success” was taught by Evan Frazier, author and senior vice president of community affairs for Highmark. It taught students how to realize their goals, make better career and personal life choices, and how to think strategically.

Just Say “Know,” a workshop on knowing what it takes to be in a healthy relationship was facilitated by professional relationship counselor, John Knight, who taught students how to understand their purpose, understand the importance of family origin and personality type, and learn how to find and keep healthy relationships.

The Financial Literacy for Young Adults, which was sponsored by the Hill District Federal Credit Union and presented by NeighWorks, provided participants with basic information on how to set and reach financial goals and understand credit, saving and investing and managing debt.

Safety Amongst Friends was a very interactive workshop taught by a Pittsburgh police officer. In the workshop, students learned the importance of being a safe driver and what it feels like to be intoxicated by wearing goggles.

“All of the workshops and speakers were very informative,” said Shea Falls, an 18-year-old Penn Hills High School senior who has interned during the SHYNE Awards and helped out with the conference. “The conference dealt with a lot of the issues that teenagers are dealing with today.”

That’s what Drewery and Darkins had in mind when they put the conference together.

“It was a great success. Our biggest job is to encourage those who are on the right track and help those who are not on the right track to get there,” Drewery said.

Barbara Reed, after school coordinator for Gwen’s Girls, felt the SHYNE Success conference would be beneficial to her girls.

About eight of Gwen’s Girls attended the conference.

“We thought this would be a good idea for our kids so they could get some positive encouragement. Our young people were talking about the conference for days after it was over. We will definitely support Orlana and Darnell next year,” Reed said.

Following the conferences, students were treated to a talent competition featuring local rap group, The Undalrds. Universal Recording artist Newland was also on hand to bring some soulful singing to the students.

“Newland was great. His performance was great. He definitely left Pittsburgh with a lot of fans,” Darkins said.

The SHYNE Success Conference & Talent Competition was sponsored by The David Berg Center for Ethics & Leadership, FedEx Ground, Chuck Sanders Charities, Hill District Federal Credit Union, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, BrothaAshProductions.com and Hill DistrIct Federal Credit Union.

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