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The Episcopal School in North Philadelphia
Keith Leaphart DO/MBA, Replica Creative, 2017 Scholarship Benefit honoree, provides students with great insight and inspiration...and a few St. James School stickers printed at his Replica Center City location

Keith Leaphart DO/MBA, Replica Creative, 2017 Scholarship Benefit honoree, provides students with great insight and inspiration…and a few St. James School stickers printed at his Replica Center City location

On Wednesday, February 22St. James School welcomed 31 professionals to its third annual Black History Month Career Day, a record number of participants. Black leaders from the fields of the arts, business, education and more shared their personal journeys and offered inspiration to an excited audience of St. James students.

At St. James, Black History Month is filled with activities to bring to life the sacrifices and achievements of African Americans throughout history. Career Day holds a special place in this month of reflection and celebration. Guests discussed the details of their careers as well as personal struggles and triumphs. After their presentations the speakers entertained questions from the enthusiastic students. Some guests even stayed for lunch to continue the wonderful conversations started during their presentations and to learn more about St. James.

Along with introducing a large group of guests to the mission of St. James School this year’s event presented a wide variety of different professions. As an added treat, some parents participated as Career Day guests and encouraged the students to be leaders in the classroom for their peers.

“Don’t ever let people tell you what is or isn’t possible with your life—anything is possible,” said Dana Brown, senior vice president, area manager, Univest Bank & Trust Co. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or that you don’t belong.”

Brown’s stirring words were echoed throughout St. James School’s Career Day by many of the presenters. The inspiration shared during this year’s Career Day will resonate with our students for years to come.

Alona Tann, social worker, Mastery Charter Schools discussed her early education and stressed the importance of following your passion. “When you hit obstacles in your life, you figure out ways to work outside the box,” said Tann, who also explained the challenges and joys of social work. Tann explained, “Any barriers that might keep students from reaching their goals, it’s my job to help them break those.”

Antonio Williams of Penn Charter shared with the students, “I always had a voice in my head telling me I was going to change the world. Not necessarily like Dr. King, from a mountaintop.”

Artist Kayode Molomo said “Prepare prayerfully, plan purposefully, proceed positively, and pursue persistently.”

LaShawna Reddy, who started out as a cashier at ShopRite and is now a manager, said, “Recognize that goals may change throughout your life,” and “be the light for your family and community.”

Rodd Lynch, senior vice president, Customers Bank is involved with Customers Bank’s community outreach program and a great supporter of St. James. “I love my job because I get to help people,” explained Lynch. Lynch also shared with the students the importance of learning about black history and equal rights. “My job is to make sure that people who bank with us are treated fairly no matter the color of their skin.”

Veterinarian Crystal Lauderdale of Mt. Airy Animal Hospital in her presentation immediately encouraged students to look to careers in the sciences. “There are people who look like you doing this, and you can do it too,” she added. Lauderdale’s description of a fast-paced animal clinic was a favorite with the students.

Christine Dancy, personal trainer, The Kroc Center motivated the students to get their bodies moving and to get excited about staying healthy. In her pumped-up presentation Dancy also stressed how exercise boosts self-esteem. “If you want to be a bodybuilder, I can help you do that. If you want to be a prima ballerina, I can help you be that too,” said Dancy.