Robin Hickman, CEO and Executive Producer at SoulTouch Productions, a participant in the 1981 Cotillion valued the mentorship and nurturing provided by her elementary School Principal, Shirley Kaiser, who is a member of the Links. “It was so important to me to be warmly embraced and to bond and interact with the women in my group. I received a Links scholarship and I reflect fondly on how the experience helped me prepare college at Howard University in Washington D. C. Hickman is giving back 30 years later by conducting this year’s Leadership Workshop for the 2010 participants and escorts.
“This program has been the best thing that I have participated in” says Dr. Tracy Troup Washington, a local family physician for Aspen Medical Group’s Urgent Care Department. Dr. Troup was also a Debutante in the first Minneapolis-St. Paul Links Cotillion in 1981. The opportunity to interact with other young African America women who had similar interest and were college bound was a great motivator for me. We had excellent role models in the members of The Links and the community professionals to which they exposed us. I have friends today that I met 30 years ago as a participant” said Dr. Troup.
Kirstyn Smith, a participant in this year’s Cotillion is a senior at Wayzata High School and is planning to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and major in economics. When looking back on the activities this year she said “it’s a once in a lifetime experience. I will cherish the friendships of the diverse and dynamic group of African American women whom I would have never met if I had not been a participant in this program.” She is grateful to her parents for introducing her to the program.
“The 2010 program is not much different than it was 30 years ago because the relevance for the young ladies has and continues to meet the need to interact with positive African American role models and other aspiring young women”, said Leslie Taylor, 2010 Debutante Cotillion Chairperson. The 2010 Debutante season has included the following and will culminate with the black tie presentation and ball on May 29, 6:00 p.m.
December 13, 2009 Debutante and Sponsor Social
Bucca Cafe – Minneapolis, MN
December 18 – 19, Overnight Retreat
2009 Friendship Village – Eden Prairie, MN
January 17, 2010 Opening Tea
Graves 60 Hotel – Minneapolis, MN
January 31, 2010 Health & Wellness Clinic
Greater Minneapolis Council Center for Families – Minneapolis, MN
March 7, 2010 Career Forum for Debutantes and Escorts
North Broadway YMCA – Minneapolis, MN
April 10, 2010 Community Service Project
ARC Valu Village
Brooklyn Center, MN
April 17, 2010 Debutantes and Escorts Leadership Workshop
Minnesota State High School League Office
Brooklyn Center, MN
May 16, 2010 Parents’ Appreciation Luncheon
Graves 60 Hotel – Minneapolis, MN
The Links, Inc. is a national, non-profit, women's service organization with more than 9,600 members in 267 chapters in the United States, the U. S. Virgin Islands, and parts of Europe. Founded in Philadelphia, The Links are primarily involved in efforts to address issues and concerns that impact the quality of life for African Americans and persons of African descent worldwide.
Nationally, such programs include significant financial support of programs and scholarships associated with the United Negro College Fund, Sickle Cell Research, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, TransAfrica, and the Schaumberg Center for Research in Black Culture, and many more.
The Minneapolis - Saint Paul Chapter of the Links has provided over $650,000 in scholarship assistance to college-bound high school seniors since 1972. Current annual funding raised for scholarship assistance to youth is approximately $25,000.
Other community outreach efforts have included financial and volunteer support to the following organizations and programs: The W. Harry Davis Foundation; Books for Africa; The Courage Center Sickle Cell Camp; The Archie Givens African American Literature Collection at the University of Minnesota; Turning Point; Harriet Tubman Battered Women's Shelter; Hallie Q. Brown Community Center; Phyllis Wheatley Community Center; Penumbra Theatre; Arts for Academic Achievement; Jeremiah Program; Vocal Essence Witness Program, Alpha Kappa Alpha African American Academic Achievement Awards and many more. Gloria Lewis is the President of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter and Lorraine Griffin Johnson is Publicity Chairperson for the 2010 Debutante Cotillion. For more information, call 952.893.8042.
The 2010 Links Debutantes:
(Photos courtesy of Dubantanes)
Amanda Frances Alexander, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Albert (Pamela) Alexander. High School: Edina High School. Escort: Mr. Joseph Cunningham, son of Mr. & Mrs. James (Karon) Cunningham.
Sponsor: Link Wenda Weekes Moore.
Debutante Amanda Frances Alexander has been on the “A” Honor Roll for all four years at Edina High School. Listed in Who’s Who among American High School Students and the National Honor Roll, she has also been named an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction. She was recently awarded the 2010 academic “All State” Athletic Excellence Award, which is awarded to the athlete that maintains a GPA above 3.9.
Amanda has been accepted at Spelman, Hampton, Princeton, Columbia, Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, American University and the University of Maryland. She plans to major in her favorite subject, Biology, and her career goal is to become a lawyer.
Chloe Elizabeth-Mary Davis, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Harry (Bobbi) Davis. High School: The Blake School.
Escort: Mr. Phillip Jean-Baptiste, son of Mr. & Mrs. Jerry (Cynthia) Jean-Baptiste. Sponsor: Link Sandy Harris.
Debutante Chloe Elizabeth-Mary Davis is a contributing editor of The Blake School Yearbook Committee. She is a member of the A Capella Choir, Environmental Club, Empty Bowls and the Community Service Board. At Blake, she especially enjoys Human Studies such as Gender Studies, Moral Issues and Psychology.
Chloe plans to attend Hampton University and was accepted to St. Catherine University, Bradley University, Pacific Lutheran University, Hamline University and Creighton University. She intends to major in Psychology in preparation for her career goal as a Child Psychologist.
Shanequa Darniesha Haggard, daughter of Ms. Patricia Haggard & Mr. Gerald Cannon. High School: Wayzata High School. Escort: Mr. Daryl Brown, son of Ms. Letesha Spencer. Sponsor: Link Gloria Lewis.
Debutante Shanequa Darniesha Haggard participates in the African American Girls Group, Youth Extending Services (Y.E.S.) and Spanish Club at Wayzata High School. She has a special interest in journalism as is evidenced by her contributions to Newsbreak and the Trojan Tribune Newspaper. Shanequa tutors younger children and volunteers at Marillac House Social Center in Chicago helping young children and teens.
Shanequa is considering Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Central State University, Kentucky State University and Minnesota State University – Mankato. She will major in psychology, social work or counseling. Shanequa plans to become a Psychologist for adolescents and teenagers.
Timaria Nicole Hammond-Downing, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Gerald (Janice) Downing and Mr. Timothy Hammond. High School: Minnehaha Academy. Escort: Mr. Austin McDowall, son of Mr. & Mrs. Harold (Anise) McDowall. Sponsor: Link Kimberly Price.
Debutante Timaria Nicole Hammond-Downing has maintained a 3.6 GPA and is on the Honor Roll at Minnehaha Academy. In recognition of her diverse accomplishments, Timaria was selected for the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Leadership Development Program. Timaria is a young activist scholar, with a sense of purpose to give back for the betterment of the community.
Timaria plans to attend DePaul University and major in marketing or fashion. Her career goal is to own her own fashion merchandising business.
Alexandria Antionett Love, daughter of Ms. Monica Jo Love & Mr. Troy Barner. Presenter: Mr. Troy Barner.
High School: Eden Prairie High School. Escort: Mr. Fruquan Stewart, son of Mr. & Mrs. Rickey (Miranda) Stewart. Sponsor: Link Joyce Taborn Jackson.
Debutante Alexandria Anetionett Love favorite subjects are Math and English. She is a competitive dancer in the areas of ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap modern and production and is the captain for the senior company dance line. Her outstanding dance skills have earned her a Third Place Award in the National Dance Competition as well as four platinum awards.
Alexandria plans to attend the University of Florida or Michigan State University. She will continue her commitment to dance in the future and own a competition dance studio and dance company.
Felicia Ann Merrill, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Marcus (Amy Levy) Merrill. High School: South High School. Escort: Mr. Kenneth King, Jr., son of Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth (Jackie) King. Sponsor: Link Shirley Kaiser.
Debutante Felicia Ann Merrill has been on the Honor Roll at South High School for four years. Her favorite subjects are Math and English. Felicia is a member of the South High African and African American Student Cultural Organization, UMOJA and is a member of the South High Women’s State Championship Basketball Team.
Felicia will attend Dunwoody Institute in September 2010, and to major in Automotive Collision and Refinishing. Felicia’s career goal is to be an auto mechanic. Felicia enjoys singing, dancing, and shopping.
Yakira Imani Moore, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Clifford (Ora) Moore. High School: Tartan High School. Escort: Mr. John Baker-Anderson, son of John Baker & Patricia Anderson. Sponsor: Link Shirley Kaiser.
Debutante Yakira Imani Moore is an accomplished athlete and academic scholar at Tartan High School. She has been on the Honor Roll all four years of high school and is a member of the National Honor Society. Yakira received a Spotlight on Scholarship Award for maintaining a 3.0 or above GPA while participating in sports.
Yakira plans to attend the University of Minnesota or University of Wisconsin, River Falls. Her career goal is to become a veterinarian.
Abigail Akua Neil, daughter of Ms. Cheryl Mayberry & Mr. Noel Neil. High School: Edina High School. Escort: Mr. Zachary Duberry, son of Ernest & Toni Duberry. Sponsor: Link Wenda Moore.
Debutante Abigail Akua Neil is a senior at Edina High School and the recipient of the Edina Nordic Spirit Award. She is a Cross Country runner and participates in Track & Field and Nordic Skiing. Abigail is also a member of the Volunteer Club that engages in community service throughout the city. She volunteers with the Appalachian Service Project, Unity South Group and Good Samaritan Group.
Abigail is considering attending Augsburg College, St. Catherine’s University, St. Thomas University, Gustavus Adolphus College, or Hamline University. She plans to major in education, history or occupational therapy. Her career aspiration is to design a curriculum for underprivileged children and teens that will motivate them to pursue higher education.
Taylor Danielle Ratliff, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Harry (Lisa) Ratliff. High School: Patrick Henry High School. Escort: Mr. Kasey Boyd, son of Dr. Joel Boyd & Cheryl Cooper Boyd. Sponsor: Link Stephanie Crosby.
Debutante Taylor Danielle Ratliff is a candidate for an International Baccalaureate Diploma demonstrating her outstanding academic achievements at Patrick Henry High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Math Team, Track & Field Team, Link Crew member and participates in competitive swimming. Taylor has been on the “A” honor roll since the 6th grade.
Taylor plans to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she will major in Biochemistry. Her career goal is to become a dermatologist.
Elon Nadeen Smith, daughter of Mr. Felton Lewis Smith. High School: DeLaSalle High School. Escort: Mr. Paul Slack, son of Mr. & Mrs. Paul (Dedra) Slack. Sponsor: Link Kimberly Price.
Debutante Elon Nadeen Smith academic achievements have been recognized through membership in the National Honor Society and selection as an Outstanding Participant in the National Academic Achievement Scholarship at DeLaSalle High School. Elon received Honorable Mention for her contribution to The All Conference Team.
Elon plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, Vanderbilt University or Spelman College where she will major in Biomedical engineering. She hopes to work as an Engineer developing life saving technologies.
Kirstyn Imani Smith, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Troy (Gloria) Smith. Escort: Mr. Jeremy Turner, son of Mr. & Mrs. Derrell (Bernadette) Turner. Sponsor: Link Lorraine Griffin Johnson.
Debutante Kirstyn Imani Smith is a senior at Wayzata High School where she is a member of the Spanish Club, Mock Trial Club, Basketball, and Track & Field Team.
Her favorite subjects are Math and Social Science. Kirsten has been a member of Jack and Jill of America for 13 years where she has served as treasurer and currently serves as secretary of the Teen Group. She was also chosen as the chapter Teen delegate for the 2009 Teen Conference.
Kirstyn is planning to attend Spelman College and major in Finance.
Britainy Cheneicé Stephens, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Stuart (Andrea) Stephens. High School: DeLaSalle High School. Escort: Mr. Derrick Gregory Boone, son of Mr. & Mrs. Gregory (Sherri) Boone, Sponsor: Link Michelle Miller.
Debutante Britainy Cheneicé Stephens has been an honor student since her freshman year at DeLaSalle High School. She has been recognized for her leadership skills, volunteerism and academics through membership in the National Honor Society. Britainy has enhanced her academic experience by participating in summer programs including the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute at Princeton University, the First Step Program at St. Catherine University, and DeLaSalle’s Foreign Language Immersion Program in France and Spain.
Britainy has volunteered for a variety of causes, including DeLaSalle’s Lasallian Ministry and the Starry Night Prom for students with disabilities. As a Senior Girl Scout, Britainy earned both the Silver and Gold Awards, the two highest awards in scouting, for her community service. Britainy has pursued her interest in law by working as a pre-law intern for Medtronic, Inc., shadowing attorneys at the Marin County Courts in California, and completing the JTBF Summer Legal Institute and the Explorer Law & Government Programs.
Britainy is considering Brown University, Cornell University, George Washington University, Swarthmore College and St. Catherine University with plans to pursue a major in pre-law with an emphasis on Africana Studies. After graduating, she plans to attend law school to become a lawyer and ultimately a Judge.
Sofia-Bella Janetta Vitale-Gill, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Rodney (Mia Phillips) Naseth. High School: Convent of the Visitation High School. Escort: Mr. Brandon Hill, son of Mr. & Mrs. Leon (Tori) Hill. Sponsor: Link Doris Baylor.
Debutante Sofia-Bella Janetta Vitale-Gill is on the Honor Roll and a recipient of the Ann Bancroft Scholarship at Convent of the Visitation High School. Her interest in making a difference in the lives of others both locally and internationally is demonstrated by her volunteer commitment at Feed My Starving Children, Bush’s Children Center and Visitation Fremont House.
Sofia-Bella is considering attending Bryn Mawr, University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University. She plans to major in psychology and her career goal is to be a child psychologist.
Daniesha Marie Wharton, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Kevin (Felicia) Wright. High School: Wayzata High School. Escort: Mr. Jason Steele, son of Ms. CeLois Steele & Mr. J.D. Steele. Sponsor: Link Laysha Ward & Link Lezlie Taylor.
Debutante Daniesha Marie Wharton’s favorite subjects are communication and history. She is a member of the Spanish Club, Cross Country Club and the Track & Field Team. She is also a charter member of the African American Girls Club.
She has published a poem in New Voices, and won the Top Five Seller District Award at ALDO shoes while working part time. Her leadership excellence extends beyond retail to being a valued role model and guest speaker at Central High School to motivate and inspire her peers.
Daniesha has been accepted at Hampton University, Florida A&M University, Clark Atlanta University and Howard University. She plans to major in Business and Communications. Her career aspiration is to become a Sales and Marketing executive for a major retail corporation.