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YMCA honors youth achievers

"I helped the kids in and outside the program; if they ever needed anything from me they knew they could call me anytime they wanted to," said Johnson. "I was giving so many people rides to meetings and rides home because I wanted to make sure they all had opportunities and needed to be there."

About 120 to 150 students regularly attend functions of the Black and Latino Achievers Program, which is available at all nine Capital District YMCAs. There are volunteer opportunities that were new this year and very popular, said Abrahams, and the program brings in mentors and speakers from various professions to help students navigate their future. The students can also go on college tours and get help finding jobs or internships.

D'Aundra Murray, also a senior from Shenendehowa High School, took advantage of all the opportunities that could affect her future and participated in so many "resume builders" (as she called them) that she applied for and was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to the College of Saint Rose.

"I was really excited because getting my financial aid packages from other schools was kind of surprising, like 'This is a lot of money that I'm taking out as student loans, I'm going to have to pay back' and that's when I was affected by the economy," said Murray. "If I take this opportunity and scholarship I'll be ahead of most people coming out of college because I won't have student loans to pay back. It wasn't even a decision. Nobody offers you that much money anymore."

Murray played a big part in organizing a Black History Month display case at the high school that held books, artwork and information.

"I was the person running it, organizing it and making sure it looked good and that's what I felt I accomplished," said Murray.

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