The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project inducted 40 “Wilson Scholars” at our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast held January 20, 2020. With great pride, we welcomed their exemplary pedigree, potential and willingness to be groomed to both live and serve with the same standard as the illustrious alumni who precede them.
They were each diligently immersed in school a mere five months away from completing high school, studies and prepared to don cap and gowns in preparation for commencement ceremonies where high school diplomas and other awards would be bestowed.
And then the world changed.
The global coronavirus pandemic halted traditional education and forced them into virtual learning environments where they would complete coursework toward high school graduation. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and mandates to adhere to social distancing mandates, we must now honor the culmination of the 5000 Role Models’ achievement in a manner that still includes pomp and circumstance, but will be presented through a digitally streamed, virtual program presented by the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
All of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence stand in the tradition of those like Dr. King who initiated and sustained mechanisms and strategies against all odds. Our young men are resilient. Change and transition are circumstances they have been groomed to deem as innovative opportunities for excellence, so they easily adapt.
We have given our young men hope for the future, a vision for greatness and an army of mentor and community support to help instill in them a belief that they can accomplish anything. We salute all of our Wilson scholars who are graduating seniors in the Class of 2020. These five young men represent some of the best examples of what the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project personifies.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson
Vilaire Etienne will graduate from William H. Turner Technical Arts High School. He has been an active member of the 5000 Role Models for about eight years, including elementary and high school.
“The 5000 Role Models has inspired me in numerous ways and created so many opportunities for us young men across Florida expanding our potential.”
He is the recipient of several scholarships and plans to attend the medical campus of Miami-Dade College to major in dental hygiene.
Ja'Den Swanson has completed all the necessary coursework to call himself a high school graduate of Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School. He has devoted five years to being a proud member of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project.
“The 5000 Role Models has helped me standout from my community in which I grew up in, to be different, and take on life's challenges with my head held high.”
Ja’Den plans to attend Florida International University as a Physical Therapy major.
Malique Lewis is completing his high school studies at Miami Lakes Education Center and says the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project is an amazing program that has made his life what it is today.
“I’m so proud to be a member of the 5000 Role Models for four years. It has helped me understand how I must carry myself in society and has also shown me that my 5000 Role Model brothers and I have the ability to change the world by not just knowing the lessons we learned from Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson and our mentors, but through living them out and being an example for other people to follow and learn from.”
Malique has been accepted at Syracuse University and plans to study communications and rhetorical studies.
Toriano Eiland is a member of the Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School graduating class of 2020 who has been a member of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence for four years.
“The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project has help me see the importance of being a black educated male. I believe education is the key to success, and the lessons I learned from the mentors will forever stay with men for the rest of my life.”
Toriano has been accepted to Florida Atlantic University and would like to pursue business studies.
Elijah Thomas has earned his high school diploma from Miami Northwestern Senior High School.
“I’m proud to be a member of The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project. This program has helped groom me into the young man I am today.”
Elijah has been accepted at Florida International University and plan to study theater.