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Montclair State students, grads gather in Washington for Promise Prize summit

Posted in: Events

Students in front of reflecting pool and Washington Monument

All four of Montclair State’s Promise Prize winners learned, networked and expanded their horizons during an annual leadership summit in Washington, D.C., in late July. The summit is held each year by the Change Create Transform Foundation to bring together all of the Promise Prize scholars.

Kishawn Jean-Pierre, who was the 2017 winner of the Promise Prize, was attending the summit for the first time.

“The opportunity to attend the summit in D.C. was a life changing experience that made me extremely appreciative of my culture, motivated me to reach my goals, and inspired me to take on as many leadership roles as possible,” said Jean-Pierre, a rising senior accounting major. “Throughout the summit, I was exposed to the historical struggles that the African American race has gone through in order to pave the way for the opportunities that we have today. The opportunity to attend the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as listening to the personal struggles of the many members of the Change Create Transform Foundation made me aware of the fight that many have put up for the African American race to progress. I left the summit in D.C. knowing that I wanted to continue the fight and inspire others to do the same so the African American race and community can continue progressing as a whole.”

The Marie Nesbitt Promise Prize is awarded annually by the Change Create Transform Foundation, which recognizes and rewards academic excellence and encourages leadership, scholarship, service and philanthropy. The prize was established in 2002 by the foundation’s founder Vikki Pryor, in memory of her grandmother Marie Nesbitt, who was a great-granddaughter of slaves who held jobs ranging from domestic worker to welder.

Vikki Pryor with Kishawn Jean-Pierre (left) and Stanley Fils
Vikki Pryor with Kishawn Jean-Pierre (left) and Stanley Fils.

The Promise Prize is awarded to a black entrepreneurship or business student with the following traits: academic excellence (high GPA), leadership, scholarship, initiative, service and entrepreneurship. The winners, who are called Scholars, become part of a community that networks together and holds an annual summit. This was the first year that the summit was held outside New York.

Stanley Fils, the 2016 Promise Prize winner, said the summit taught him several lessons.

“I learned the importance of taking action and the incredible impact that even small steps can have on the community. Everyone can and should contribute,” said Fils, who received his MBA and undergraduate degrees from Montclair State.

Fils added, “This weekend helped put things in perspective for me. It helped me to realize the depths of my own potential and the vast network I have at reach and how I can use my talents and that network to develop and further help my community.”

Also attending the summit were Dana LaCondre-Nugent and Alanda Alexandre, the 2015 and 2014 winners, respectively.

The Montclair State contingent at the Promise Prize summit
The Montclair State contingent at the Promise Prize summit.

The selection committee for the 2017 Promise Prize included: Accounting Professor Agatha Jeffers, Marketing Professor Devon Johnson, Assistant Director of Feliciano School of Business Career Services Mariah Mayers, Finance Professor Hermann Sintim-Aboagye, and Feliciano Center Program Manager Sharon Waters.

Mayers and Waters attended the summit.

“It was an absolute pleasure attending the Promise Prize Summit this year,” said Mayers. “It was inspiring and motivating to be around the scholars who each have a mission to influence change in their communities and are excelling in their studies or their current professions. It was also a moving cultural experience that I won’t forget.”