MORRISTOWN, NJ - Just weeks before the start of his freshman year at Montclair State University, Trevor Stephney, experienced a series of firsts:
- first participant in the EMBODI youth mentoring program to represent the Morristown Alumnae Chapter (MAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., at the Presidential Youth Conference, which this year was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the sorority’s 53rd national convention;
- first time to travel by airplane;
- first trip to Las Vegas;
- first speech delivered before a delegation of nearly 9,000 attendees; and
- first MAC youth participant to receive the sorority’s national Behind the Camera scholarship, bestowed during the conference.
Stephney’s whirlwind weekend in Vegas resulted from his decision nearly two years ago to join, and then actively participate in, EMBODI, one of three youth mentoring programs offered by MAC. EMBODI, which stands for Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence, is a nine-month program that provides young African-American men in grades six through 12 the opportunity to engage in workshops and group discussions, participate in community service projects, attend field trips, and fellowship with peers in a safe and nurturing environment.
“I found out about EMBODI from my mom,” recalled Stephney. “Because I live in a predominantly white community and attended a predominantly white school, I thought EMBODI would be a great opportunity to engage with other males who looked like me and mentor to those younger than me. I never imagined that my desire to belong and give back would result in so much attention, especially on a national level,” smiled Stephney.
Competing in a field that included more than 250 alumnae chapters of the 104-year-old public service sorority, Stephney was selected to join 76 youth representatives (20 from EMBODI programs) to engage in leadership development activities. True to form, Stephney fully immersed himself in the activities and discussion sessions and was nominated by his peers to share brief remarks in front of the nearly 9,000-member delegation.
“I spoke about the honor and privilege of being a member of EMBODI,” Stephney shared, still floating on cloud nine. “I’m so grateful to Delta that this program exists.”
Shortly after giving his speech, Stephney returned to the stage to accept the Behind the Camera scholarship. All high school students who participated in an EMBODI youth program and aspired to have a career in the film industry were eligible for consideration. Stephney hopes to become “the best film director ever” and will major in filmmaking at Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media. The Behind the Camera scholarship is one of many honors Stephney has received for his filmmaking prowess (see additional media coverage listed below).
Locally, Stephney was one of six high school seniors to receive a scholarship from MAC, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary of public service in Morris County. On June 23, 2017, the newly elected president of MAC, Marian Sykes Johnson, presented the awards, totaling $15,000, to the following recipients: Bryson Bey from Mount Olive High School; Faith Fifo from Parsippany Hills High School; Grace Logan from Morris Hills High School; Deionne Miller from Morris Hills High School; Stephney of Morristown High School; and Ifeoma White-Thorpe from Morris Hills High School.
Two of the local scholarship recipients also received an honorarium for their participation in MAC’s youth programs: Stephney for EMBODI and Miller for the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy and the Delta G.E.M.S. (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully) Institute. Miller, who will be attending the University of South Carolina in the fall to study nursing, represented the chapter at the Presidential Youth Conference in 2013 during the national convention held in Washington, DC, during the sorority’s centennial anniversary.
About MAC’s Youth Programs:
Delta G.E.M.S. (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully) Institute was created to catch the dreams of African-American, at-risk, adolescent girls ages 14-18. Delta GEMS provides the frame work to actualize those dreams through the performance of specific tasks that develop a CAN DO attitude. The goals for Delta GEMS are:
- to instill the need to excel academically;
- to provide tools that enable girls to sharpen and enhance their skills to achieve high levels of academic success;
- to assist girls in proper goal setting and planning for their futures, high school and beyond; and
- to create compassionate, caring, and community-minded young women by actively involving them in service learning and community service opportunities. The Delta GEMS framework is composed of five major components (Scholarship, Sisterhood, Show Me the Money, Service, and Infinitely Complete), forming a road map for college and career planning. Topics within the five major components are designed to provide interactive lessons and activities that provide opportunities for self-reflection and individual growth.
The EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence) program is designed to provide growth opportunities for and enhance the lives of males ages 11-18. The program serves as a motivational tool for African-American teenage males with the ultimate goal of increasing knowledge and awareness of issues affecting young men today. The goals of EMBODI are:
- to expand the horizons of young African-American males by cultivating a personal vision for their lives;
- to provide tools for young African-American males to attain a higher quality of life;
- to provide young African-American males with an awareness of various college and career options to make rewarding life choices and decisions; and
- to create community-minded young African-American males by actively involving them in service learning and community service opportunities.
Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy or Delta Academy is designed for young ladies ages 11-14. The goals of Delta Academy are to shape well-rounded young women and enhance or spark interest in math, science, technology, and/or careers where minority women are scarcely represented. Delta Academy’s aim is to focus on providing experiences and opportunities to enhance academic, social, and intellectual development. Many young ladies have tremendous potential, however, they are not afforded the opportunity to broaden themselves, express their curiosity, and experience new and different things early on.
Delta Academy sessions focus on character development, such as self-esteem, self-motivation, and developing life skills. Participants learn about healthy choices, the importance of community service, literacy through book club participation, and African-American history. In addition, field trips are planned to various destinations to give participants a chance to ignite an interest in their future.
Visit www.macdst.org to learn more about the Morristown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.