With the country gradually coming out of a recession, the education system and curriculum going backward instead of forward, all the drugs and alcohol in the streets and in most homes, and the cost of college skyrocketing, it would have been very easy for them to just throw their hands in the air like so many Black brothers and sisters and give up, drop out of school and either just do nothing or go out on the streets selling drugs.

And for the girls, they could have had a baby or two and went on welfare, or dumped them on their parents. But these people, partly because of the other people in their lives, such as their parents, but mostly themselves, chose to not give up. They chose to fight the odds and become successful men and women determining their own destiny instead of waiting on that meager welfare check, or standing on the corner in the freezing cold or hot burning sun, hoping the police don’t come by or a rival dealer who will gun you down with no hesitation.

These 24 women and 16 men came through the same school systems as everyone else, all having times when they didn’t think they were going to make it; yet they hung in there and kept fighting to reach the level in which they are at now. But their fight is still not over; they are all young and there will be many more trials and tribulations on their way.

We say to you, when others see you are successful there will be many who will help you rise even higher, but there will also be many who will try to pull you down. And it will be hard determining who’s who, but with the guidance of God, and other trusted friends, parents and associates, you can’t let anybody hold you back or pull you down. Because sometimes the person holding you back can be parents, can be friends, can even be spouses or lovers.

You’ve come a long way, keep on seeking knowledge, keep on seeking truth, keep on aspiring to be the best you can be at what you do. Because God gave us all a talent; it’s up to us to find out what that talent is, and to make the most of it, not letting it go to your head, because as fast as you rise, you can fall just as fast. Life is a learning process, and when you stop learning you stop growing. You are never too old to learn.

Once again congratulations to all 40; you are a credit to the human race. Stay in the lead.

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