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MLK Scholars are academic achievers, community leaders, and talented creators. After completing post-secondary education, many pursue advanced degrees, careers, and volunteer roles that make a difference locally and beyond. Read on below.

List of All Past Scholars

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Martin Luther King speaking into microphone
McKinley Winston, 1971 MLK Scholar

McKinley graduated in 1972 from New London High School in New London, CT. While attending Colgate University he majored in French and Political Science, attaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in three years before studying at Oxford and Dijon Universities. He is fluent in six languages. After starting his career as an actor and writer, McKinley produced his first one-man show, "Living on the Edge" at Nate Horne theater on 42nd Street and his second one-man show, "Stop Lying, McKinley!" at the Museum of Broadcasting in New York City. McKinley has also performed at Colgate University and Connecticut College.

Jerrilyn (Luter) Goodwater, 1977 MLK Scholar

Jerrilyn graduated in 1978 from New London High School in New London, CT. She attended the University of Connecticut, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  While attending the University, Jerrilyn sought out ways to give back to her community and she coninues to do so.  She is a member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).  She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Sorority Inc., where she holds the office of Chaplain for Epsilon Omicron Omega chapter.  Jerrilyn is the mother of two and the wife of Rev. Issac Goodwater, pastor of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Norwich, CT.  She actively shares in the ministry with her husband, directing the children's choir, coordinating the women's group, and serving as the sewing circle president.  Jerryilyn is employed as a supervisor at the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services.

Sharon J. Dunning, 1977 MLK Scholar

A 1977 MLK Scholar, Sharon graduated in 1978 from New London High School in New London, CT.  She attended Boston College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.  In 2000, she completed a second degree and graduated with a Masters of Public Health from the University of CT, Farmington.  For several years, she worked as a financial and marketing representative for John Hancock Companies, Inc. and later pursued changes in her career, first as a microbiologist at the  State of CT Dept. of Public Health, and presently, as an epidemiologist. In 2011, Sharon keynoted the MLK Ecumenical Service at St. James Episcopal Church in New London, CT.  She also served on the MLK Board of Trustees and now co-chairs the Alumni Initiative, continuing to actively serve as a past scholar.  Sharon continues to be engaged in community and outreach programs, giving back to her town by serving on the Town Committee, various boards, and other civic activities.

Nakia Madry-Smith, 1993 MLK Scholar

Nakia graduated from East Lyme High School in East Lyme, CT in 1994.  She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Engineering Technology from Hampton Unitersity and her Master of Business Administration from Old Dominion University.  During her time at Hampton, Nakia participated as a member of the Marching Pirate's Ebony Fire dance team and became a lead vocalist for The Fuzz Band, consisting of other members of the University's music department.  At present, she is a faculty administrator at Old Dominion and serves as the Director for its Peninsula branch campus.  Nakia continues to appear with the groups Rocky 7 and The Fuzz Band, has toured the world as part of the USO, and performed at President Barack Obama's Inaugural ball.

Phylicia Powers, 1997 MLK Scholar

Phylicia graduated in 1998 from the Williams School in New London, CT. In 2002 she completed her work at the University of Maryland, College Park with a dual degree in Criminology/ Criminal Justice and African American Studies. In 2011 Phylicia received her Juris Doctor from North Carolina University (NCCU) and passed the North Carolina Bar Examination. Currently she lives in Durham, North Carolina. As an attorney Phylicia is presently practicing juvenile and adult criminal defense for the 14th judicial district in North Carolina.

Brittny Williams Howell, MD., 1997 MLK Scholar

Brittny graduated in 1998 from Waterford High School in Waterford, CT. She is the daughter of R. Nelson and Betty Jo Williams. In 2002 she received her Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Chemistry from Duke University. In 2007 she received her Medical Degree with Honors in Cellular Biology from New York University School of Medicine. Her general surgery training was then completed at NYU Langone Medical Center and her vasuclar surgery training at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital- Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Howell s now the newest vascular surgeon to join Southeastern Connecticut Vascular Center in Fairfield and New Haven counties. Out of 12 surgeons, she is the first African-American and the first woman! She has published multiple scholarly articles and her clinical interests include peripheral arterial disease, carotid artery disease, aortic disease, and venous disease including varicose veins and thrombosis. She now resides in Ridgefield with her husband, Dr. R. Damani Howell, an orthopedic surgeon, and their two sons Xavier and Oliver.

Michele Scott, 2002 MLK Scholar

Michele graduated from Fitch High School in 2003. She attended Columbia University where she graduated with her B.A. in Psychology and America Studies.  She furthered her education and received her M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University.  Her passion for giving back is reflected in her commitment to community initiatives.  Scott serves on the Board of Directors of The Arc of New London County and on the Board of Directors for Health Equity Solutions.  She is the co-founder of the Native American Alumni Association for Columbia University.  She is a member of the Ledyard Safe Teen Coalition and Ledyard's Juvenile Review Board.  For her years of work training health care professional and community advocates, Scott was elected as a Leaders in Action Fellow through the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut in 2015.  Currently, Michele is the Executive Director of Eastern CT Area Health Education Center that oversees New London and Windham counties.  In this role, she ensures the level of health by training and retaining health professionals from diverse backgrounds to meet communities' needs.  Michele is currently an educational leadership doctoral candidate at Northeastern University.  She resides on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation with her family.

Myles Bradley, 2004 MLK Dr. Waller Scholar

Myles graduated in 2005 from Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT. He completed his bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University where he also was a four year varsity track and field athlete, captain of the team and a two time All-American. He spent his summers interning at Sonalyst Inc. Since graduating in 2009 Myles coached track and field at his alma mater, NFA. He was employed by L&M Hospital as a process innovation analyst and served as a board member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Connecticut. Before returning to college Myles also served as a trustee of the MLK Trust Fund. In May of 2014 Myles graduated with an MBA from the School of Management at Yale University and is currently employed by McKinsey & Company in New York.

Shana Yearwood, 2006 MLK Scholar

Shana graduated class valedictoiran in 2007 form Robert E. Fitch Sr. High School in Groton, CT.  In 2011 she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University in New York City.  After graduating Shana completed a short stint with Teach for America.  She then joined the Booz Allen Hamilton Consulting Firm as a human capital consultant.  She is currently on the Board of Playworks in Washinghton, D.C., a non-profit devoted in using the power of play to build leadership and social skills in elementary school children.  Shana is continuing her education as a doctoral student in Social-Organizational Psychology.

Geoffrey Taylor, 2007 MLK Scholar

Geoff graduated in 2008 from Robert E. Fitch Senior High School in Groton, CT.  Initially attendingThe New School, in New York City, Geoff transferred to Connecticut College where he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Architectural studies with a double minor in botany and sociology in 2013 . After graduation, Geoff began working at Connecticut College as an associate in the Office of Alumni & Parent Engagement.  He now serves as Assistant Director in the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement.  One of Geoffrey's primary task is to diversify the College's alumni offereings by engaging alumni in panel discussions that revolve around topics involving social justice and human riights issues.  As a new trustee and member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Scholarship Trust Fund, Geoffrey is excited about teh oppotrtunity to help exxpand the MLK alumni engagement program and visibility of the organization.  He is currently exploring master's degree programs in higher education.

Rayshawn Whitford, 2007 MLK Scholar

Rayshawn graduated in 2008 from Stonington High School in Stonington, CT. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration at Babson College,  where he led several groups focused on community development boh on and off-campus.  After graduating in 2012, Rayshawn moved to Rwanda in  Africa to take on the role of Country Director for the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center (BREC) where he focused the organization's attentions on creating, catalyzing, and celebrating entrepreneurs in various trades and businesses.  In 2013, the Washington Post's "The Root" named Whitford to "The Root Young Futurist," a list that highlights 25 of the brighteset African-American innovators, ages 16-22, whose ambitions and actions to change the world leaves them poised to become the leaders of tomorrow.  "Why Millennials Matter" also featrured Rayshwon as one of their Rising Stars - a group of influential millennial leaders who are trendsetters to their peers and role models for every age.  Under Rayshawn's leadership BREC was named Rwanda's Innovation Champion of the Year of 2014.  Rayshawn has recently joined the Bridgespan Group in Boston as a strategy consultant for nonprofits and foundations.  He also serves as a mentor for "Year up Boston" in his free time.

II LT Matthew A. Jones, 2008 MLK Scholar

Matthew graduated from Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT. In 2013 he graduated from Delaware State University with a BS in Airway Science, concentrating in Aviation Management. He is currently completing the last leg of his pilot program at Laughlin Airforce Base in Del Rio, Texas. II LT Jones is married to the former Ashley Fulton and they are the proud parents of one daughter, Ezra Rose.

Shianne Sebastian, 2008 MLK Scholar

Shianne graduated from Wheeler High School in North Stonington, CT in 2009.  In 2013, she received her bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College, where she studied Neuroscience and Native American Studies.  Shianne currently works for Invicro in New Haven, CT researching neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  In addition, she is on the Board of Directors for the Wuttooantam Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the local Native American community and educates the general public on indigenous history and culture.  Shianne is also serving as a tribal councilor for the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation.

Derrell Wilson, 2009 MLK Scholar

Derrell graduated in 2010 from Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT.  He completed his Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry with a minor in premed from American International College in  Springfield, MA.  While at American International College, Derrell served as Class President in the Student Government Association for three years.  Derrell is currently in his third year serving as the President of Connecticut State NAACP Youth & College Division, where he oversees 14 active youth councils and college chapters across the state.  Derrell spends much of his free time giving back to his community in various ways, and in particular, mentoring youth.  He is currently employed as a Site Coordianator of Extended Learning at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, CT.

Rachelle A. Aekins, 2010 MLK Scholar

Rachelle graduated from Waterford High School in 2011.  She attended the University of Connecticut, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering (2015).  At UCONN, she was named to the leadership role of Philanthropy Chair for the Engineering Sorority, helping to raise thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  She also held a research position at the UCONN Health Center at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and was a Teaching Assistant in Biomedical Measurements.  Currently, she works at the medical device manufacturing company Carwild Corporation as a Quality Assurance Specialist.  Rachelle serves on the MLK Scholarship Trust Fund Board of Trustees.

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