The Oakland Bay Area Chapter of Links, Inc. held its Celebration of Excellence program on April 28 in the Bechtel Room at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, marking the 22nd year that The Links has sponsored the event.

Thirty-three graduating African American East Bay high school seniors were honored from public, private and parochial schools. The honorees were from: Alameda High School; Bentley; Bishop O'Dowd; Carondelet; Castlemont; Concord High School; De La Salle; Dougherty Valley; Holy Names; James Logan; Mt. Diablo; Oakland School of the Arts; Skyline; St. Joseph Notre Dame; and Tennyson.

In addition to their academic achievements, these students have also exemplified excellent citizenship, school attendance and leadership skills.

All honorees received a $500 scholarship, certificates of recognition from Rep. Barbara Lee, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and from The Links.

Keynote speaker at the event was Debra Pryor, retired chief of the Berkeley Fire Department. Pryor was one of five women fire chiefs in California and the second of five African American fire chiefs in the nation.

She reminded the young audience of how important it is to serve and give back to the community. She told the honorees that all of their dreams can come true if they will always do their best and aim for being amazing. She told the honorees to accept responsibility for errors because everyone makes mistakes, and said the important key is to learn the lessons from the mistakes and move forward.


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Funds for the scholarships are raised from the proceeds of the Cotillion, an annual gala ball which is now a Bay Area tradition. This elegant ball, held in December, is a festive rite of passage for young high school seniors marking their transition from adolescence into the joys and responsibilities of young adulthood and world citizenship which is held in December.

The Oakland Bay Area Chapter of Links is one of 273 chapters located throughout the United States and in Germany, the Bahamas and South Africa. The national organization membership includes more than 12,000 African American women dedicated to improving the quality of life in their communities through the sponsorship of a variety of civic, cultural and educational projects and the awarding of scholarships to local, high achieving, college bound high school seniors.

For more information regarding The Links, Inc. visit www.oaklandbayarealinks.org.

-- Oakland Bay Area chapter of Links, Inc.