Overview:

Six high school seniors were presented Education Awards by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Six high school seniors were presented Education Awards by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition at a ceremony held January 16 to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday. 

This year’s awards recipients are:

• Alexander Hamilton High School senior Maya Calderon was presented a Santa Monica/Westside Legacy Fund for Women and Girls Award. She is in the Academy of Media and Performing Arts (AMPA) program. Her concentration is dance. She plans to attend aCalifornia State University to major in Kinesiology or Nursing. Her goal is to become a chiropractor or nurse. Maya comes from a loving family with different cultural backgrounds. She is proud of her mixed heritage, Mexican from her mother and African American from her father.Maya’s grandma on her mother’s side came to the United States from Mexico to give her family a better life so they would not suffer the way she did. The legacy of Maya’s family is an example of overcoming difficulties. Maya achieved goals she never imagined she would, including becoming Captain of her Dance Team and being crowned Homecoming Queen. This award was supported by a generous donation from theSanta Monica/Westside Legacy Fund for Women and Girls.

• Alexander Hamilton High School senior Shawn Johnson Jr. was presented the Saul Morrison Award. The Class of 2023 grad will continue his education at Santa Monica City College, majoring in Business Administration, and pursue his Bachelor’s degree at a California State University. Shawn’s hobbies are playing basketball and videogames, going to movies and amusement parks, and spending time with his family. He is a member of Holman United Methodist Church, where Reverend James Lawson was senior pastor for 25 years. Shawn’s church activities include Acolytes, Cherub Choir, Jr. Ushers, and Youth Fellowship Group. The award for an essay that ‘demonstrates a passion for bridge-building, community, and leadership’ is presented to honor the memory and efforts of social activist Saul Morrison to secure equal opportunities for everyone.

• Alexander Hamilton High School senior Apriltroy Coleman, born and raised in Los Angeles, received the Sue Schuerman and Sally Mendelsohn Award. Most of her high school years have been devoted to high academic achievement. Apriltroy has sat on the council of different clubs such as Dear Diary, a mental health awareness club she founded, and Empowerment for Hamilton, an activist club promoting transparency and fairness for minorities on high school campuses. She volunteers at the Robertson Library Teen Council, where she works on a project raising awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline and creating better pathways for troubled students. Apriltroy plans to attend Brown University. She will give back to her community by becoming a criminal defense attorney. This award was supported by a generous donation from the Santa Monica/Westside Legacy Fund for Women and Girls.

• USC Hybrid High College Prep senior Miles Christopher Mauldin received the Clyde Smith Award. He is the oldest of three children, with a twin brother and a younger sister. His interests are reading books, playing videogames, and hanging out with his family and friends. For the past three years, Miles has been involved in several clubs at school, including Anime, Movies, and Comics (AMC), Black Student Union (BSU), and Christian Club. His short-term goal is to get into a coding program. His long-term goal is to acquire his Bachelor’s degree and become a successful videogame designer. The award for ‘artistic effort and service to making our world a better place’ is given to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honor Westside Coalition co-founder, director of the former Neighborhood Development Corporation, and revered community leader Clyde Smith.

• Alexander Hamilton High School senior Maleeyah Frazier received a Santa Monica/Westside Legacy Fund for Women and Girls Award. She aspires to become a juvenile attorney. She has worked with Students Deserve (SD) and Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, participated on panels alongside Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizers, and had articles published in the Los Angeles Times. Maleeyah will continue working with youth to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA, accumulating to 4.3, while holding multiple leadership titles such as 1st Vice President on a school, regional, and state level with the United Black Student Unions of California (UBSUC), Co-captain of her Dance Team, Senior Class President, and the first Black student to become President of her performing arts academy leadership. Maleeyah plans to attend the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) or Spelman College and major in sociology or public affairs. This award was supported by a generous donation from the Santa Monica/Westside Legacy Fund for Women and Girls.

• USC Hybrid High College Prep senior Xavier Devion Mauldin was presented the Lillie Bell Blakley Award. He is 17 years old and has a twin brother. Last year, he was presented the opportunity to become president of the Black Student Union (BSU) by the former president. Xavier proudly accepted, knowing that he would be the keeper of a space where students of African descent would be able to express themselves freely. Although challenging, Xavier has come to appreciate and enjoy educating students on topics related to ethnic studies and history. Xavier plans on a career as a high school humanities teacher. He is hoping to pursue a Liberal Studies degree and has applied to several California State University campuses. The award for a work that ‘demonstrates an awareness of tradition, legacy, and history’ is given in honor of Lillie Bell Blakley, whose passion to “keep moving forward” is apparent in her family’s multigenerational commitment to education and service, which includes her son and former Mayor of Santa Monica Nathaniel Trives, as well as her granddaughter, Dr. Toni Trives, former chair of the SMC Modern Languages and Cultures Department.

Each year, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition invites schools, churches, and youth groups to encourage their college freshmen and high school seniors to submit an essay, poem, or other creative work that exemplifies the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” in Dr. King’s Stride Toward Freedom. The awards are supported by endowments established in memory of local community activists and managed by the Santa Monica College Foundation.

More information about the Education Awards and details on how to help support the awards are available by calling the SMC Foundation at 310-434-4215.

Submitted by Grace Smith