Two win awards for leadership, persistence

Two ABC students from Andover have received awards for excellence in areas that are ABC hallmarks: leadership and persistence against all odds.

Felicia Reyes, who graduated last spring, was chosen by the A Better Chance national organization from among graduating ABC seniors nationwide for “exceptional and steadfast determination to achieve successes through perseverance toward objectives in spite of obstacles that may have impeded his or her progress.”

The other award went to Fatouma Koné, a junior this year at Andover High, for leadership qualities she showed during a training program at Princeton University.

Felicia and her family, along with her ABC host parents, Nancy and Michael Vogler, and former ABC of Andover president Mary Pritchard, attended National ABC’s 50th Anniversary Gala in New York City, where Felicia gave an acceptance speech.
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“Felicia was amazing in her grace and poise as she accepted the Judith Berry Griffin award,” said Pritchard. “She brings great strength at moments when she knows she is out of her comfort zone… showing all of us the courage that she possesses no matter what life asks of her.”

Now a freshman at her dream school, the University of Southern California, with a full scholarship, she said she wants to be seen as “a walking example of how there is hope.”

“If it weren't for A Better Chance,” she said, “I would not be where I am today.”

At the ceremony, ABC also honored its original 16 partner schools, which included Phillips Academy of Andover.

Fatouma Koné was honored with the Oprah Winfrey Award at the highly selective At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Princeton. The two-week summer program is for high school students of color with leadership and academic potential.

Attending thanks to a scholarship and sponsorship, she was assigned the duty of dorm advisor for the two-week session in addition to the program’s main activities.

At a closing ceremony, she received the Oprah Winfrey award for demonstrated leadership.

“I learned a lot,” she says of the annual program, which encourages critical thinking and problem solving in its classes and discussion groups. “It brought together a lot of cool people from all over the country.”

Read more in the national A Better Chance Spring 2013 Newsletter.