Karina Yepez, who represented the Long Beach Branch NAACP at the organization’s national Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO), won the National Gold Medal in Culinary Arts. The competition took place in Houston, Texas, July 5 through July 9 during the NAACP national convention. This pilot program is in its second year, and this was the first time the Long Beach Branch NAACP participated.
The local branch represented the West Coast in the program that is sponsored by Hyatt Hotel and Sodexo. There are 25 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, performing and visual arts, and culinary arts.
Vernon Jarrett, a renowned author and journalist, initiated the idea of a program that would promote and reward academic achievers the same way sports heroes are honored. ACT-SO is a yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high-school students.
The ACT-SO program centers around the dedication and commitment of community volunteers and business leaders, to serve as mentors and coaches to promote academic and artistic excellence among students of color, particularly African-American students. High-school students who are citizens of the United States, enrolled in grades 9 through 12, and amateurs in the categories of competition are able to participate. Program participants are teamed up with coaches in their appropriate categories to sharpen their skills for the spring local competition.
ACT-SO alumni occupy a wide array of careers including executive positions with corporations like Lockheed Martin and Citigroup—one even serves a vocal coach for FOX television’s “American Idol.” Famed ACT-SO alumni include musician Kanye West, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, filmmaker John Singleton and comedian Anthony Anderson.
To get more information or to support the program, send a tax-deductible donation to the Long Beach Branch NAACP at P.O. Box 1594, Long Beach, CA 90801, or call (562) 856-7586.
Source: LB NAACP