What's New at Greater Steps Scholars

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Graduation time is here! Greater Steps Scholars is excited to celebrate 26 graduates this year!

As we send off our 2021 graduates to their new lives, we are equally as excited to celebrate our 63 renewal scholars heading back to college this Fall and our 30 new Scholars heading to school for the first time.

38th Annual Award CeremonyEven though it’s a few months away, we’re already gearing up for our 38th Annual Awards Ceremony, which will take place on Sunday, August 1 at 4 pm. We’ll be virtual again this year, and, with our theme of “Focused Forward,” we’re set to celebrate 26 amazing graduates who have persevered through an uncharacteristic year.

We hope you will join us for an hour of celebration of student excellence and achievement that will leave you hopeful and inspired for the future. Registration details to come, so stay tuned!

Take a look at last year's celebration on our YouTube channel!

Greater Steps Spotlight: Jaire Clarida

GreaterStepsSpotlight JaireClaridaThis month, we’re excited to feature Jaire Clarida as our Student Spotlight. Jaire has just graduated from North Carolina A&T University with a 3.64 GPA and Bachelors of Arts in Social Work.

Jaire will be attending the University of Illinois-Chicago in the fall, where he's pursuing his master’s degree in Social Work. His goal is to work with community-based agencies to help provide resources and support to vulnerable and marginalized communities.

During college, Jaire was active in a variety of clubs, programs, and initiatives, such as the Sociology & Social Work Society – where he’s also held several leadership positions, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and Prism.

He was a Resident Assistant, part of the Residence Hall Association, involved with TRUE Colors mentoring, and has served as a Multicultural Student Center Ambassador.

Prior to heading off to school, Jaire lived in The Residences at Renaissance, and says the scholarship he obtained through Greater Steps Scholars has been incredibly beneficial to him. “The scholarship has provided many resources to help me on my undergraduate journey,” he says. “I’ve been able to attend workshops, connect with a great mentor, and not worry about the high costs of college.”

Jaire will be one of the graduates included in our 38th Annual Award Ceremony on Sunday, August 1st!

Greater Steps Mentor Spotlight: Sharman Thornton Hunter

Sharman Thornton HunterWe love telling the stories of our mentors just as much as we do our Greater Steps Scholars – and we’re especially excited to introduce you to Sharman Thornton Hunter. Sharman’s own story – and how it intersects with one of our Scholars, Olivia, is one that gets to the heart of why mentorship is so important to us at Greater Steps Scholars – because of the many benefits to both the mentor and student.

Sharman was born in 1952 in the Queens borough of New York City. Her parents joined the Peace Corps when she was 10, which brought Sharman and her family to Nigeria – and later, Liberia – for just over ten years, where she attended boarding schools. After attending a junior college in Rhode Island, Sharman transferred and graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park.

Mentorship was always a big part of Sharman’s life – as was a streak of independence. After she graduated in 1974, she went to work at McDonald’s full-time, and in the early 90s, had the opportunity to purchase seven McDonald’s restaurants of her own in Charlotte. “It wasn’t a difficult decision,” she says. “I know I’d be happier working for myself.”

Fast forward to 2019, Sharman attended the Greater Steps Scholars Gala with her husband at the invitation of Greater Steps Scholars' Executive Director, Aisha Strothers. “Meeting Dr. Crawford that evening was a privilege” she says. “Aisha offered me the opportunity to mentor Olivia Rice. Meeting Olivia has been one of the most joyous relationships I’ve had.”

Sharman Thornton Hunter mentor picThe mentor relationship has been beneficial for both Sharman and Olivia. “Olivia is intelligent and brilliant, with much to offer to the future of this country,” Sharman says. “Over the years, I’ve witnessed many fail because they didn’t have positive role models in their lives. Olivia will not be one of them.” Sharman says she and Olivia - who attends Appalachian State University – will be friends for life.

“Olivia knows how much I love to collect art, and she gave me a tour of the University’s art museum,” she says. “When Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson spoke at Appalachian State, Olivia invited me. I’ve been honored to play a small role in her journey.”

Sharman thanks Greater Steps Scholars for allowing her to pay it forward. As her relationship with Olivia progresses, she does have one wish she hopes will come true: “Hopefully, she’ll teach me how to roller skate soon!”