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Carver Center led me to where I am, will help others

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Thursday, Sept. 20, is Carver Day. Taylor Hemphill is a Carver alumna. 

Even as a young adult, living in Philadelphia, I still consider myself a Carver Kid. It’s an identity that didn’t leave me once I graduated high school.  My parents were involved with the Carver Center in their youth and my involvement extended to Girls Scout meetings, CASPER program, summer camp, Junior YDP, then Senior YDP. I would later return to the Carver the summer before finishing my undergraduate degree. I had the privilege of giving back in the building that gave to me, as a co-director for Let’s Get Ready!, an SAT prep program for low-income high school students.

After 18 consecutive years as a student, I am now an Ivy League educated, masters-level social worker; a career choice introduced to me when I started at the Carver Center. My most memorable experiences from the Carver are rooted in education, social justice, and self-confidence. The Carver took me on my first college tour at thirteen years old. Mr. Fuller taught me history about my black ancestors that school teachers omitted when he challenged us to be first at his office with the answer to his black history question over the PA system. My drive for social justice was provoked during discussions in the Teen Room and with my peers and counselors. Then it was enhanced when I joined the Junior NAACP along with peers from Junior and Senior YDP. My self-confidence would start to mold from the relatable representative I saw in the Carver Center staff, reciting the YDP pledge, and participating in the Girls’ Group. This group facilitated by Ms. Roberson encouraged us to discover our voice and potential despite societal limitations. Ms. Roberson was the first social worker I had met and my admiration for her role at the Carver Center led me to where I am today in my career.

I am pleased to see the George Washington Carver Center remain not just a landmark but a staple in youth upbringing for Norwalk. The center as endured its role of being a safe place in the community to learn and engage in extracurricular activities. These activities (during my time) ranging from cooking class and basketball to sleep away camps on a farm and STEM lessons. I’m elated to see the Carver continue its efforts of building lifetime achievers across the spectrum.

Taylor A. Hemphill, MSW

Philadelphia

2 comments

Sherelle Harris September 21, 2018 at 12:08 am

Great letter, Taylor! I, as I’m sure everyone who read your letter, am very proud of your accomplishments. Kudos to Mrs. Jackie Roberson and Novelette for their authentic work with youth. I remember when Mrs. Roberson brought you and a group of other Carver girls to the Girls to Women book club at the SoNo Branch Library. Time flies. Now you are all grown up with a wonderful life and wonderful career.

CONGRATULATIONS.

Jacqueline Roberson September 22, 2018 at 10:11 am

Thank you Taylor for those kind words, 40 years later Carver and the youth continue to be a labor of love. Kudos to your amazing parents who have always shown such tremendous support and love for you. Grateful to have been a small part of your awesome village of cheerleaders. You are fortunate to be born with natural intelligence, a kind heart, intrinsically motivated, resilency, destined for success. Imagine what this community would be like if all children were so fortunate. Mr. Fuller is looking from above so proud of all of your accomplisments but more importantly proud that you never ‘sold out’ and forgot where you came from. ‘Persistence and determination are omnipotent ….PRESS ON!’

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