Buick Achievers Are Driven to Succeed

By Titus Falodun | 4/11/2014, 6:15 p.m.
A fatal car accident fueled Nartezya Dykes to become the first person in her family to attend college.
The Buick Achievers share a moment in the sun Saturday, April 5, at Morehouse College. Left to right: United Negro College Fund president and CEO Michael Lomax Ph.D., Buick Achievers: Ty’Quish Keyes, Nartezya Dykes, Oneisha Hall, and GM Canada President Kevin Williams. Photo by Titus Falodun/TheAV.

Now, he is now seeking to be the difference in changing the dynamics of not only black male youths such as himself, but for an entire community stuck in enclosed mindset similar to “crabs in a barrel.”

Keyes is a junior currently enrolled in the AUC dual degree-engineering program, which has his studies split between attending Morehouse College and Georgia Tech University. And he plans on interning with General Electric this summer.

There was much more to the weekend for the Buick Achievers than sharing meals and stories of triumph.

In the instance of Oneisha Hall, the business administration junior at Tuskegee University, a conversation with Derrick Watkins (better known as Fonzworth Bentley) turned out to be the highlight of her time in Atlanta.

Watkins was part of the UNCF’s Empower Me Tour weekend at Morehouse, where leading celebrities and professionals shared their insights on perseverance and success via various engaging workshops.

Following the workshops, Watkins and other notable celebrities met with parents and students, which is when Hall met the man that would change her approach to a burning question—What to do after completing school?

Despite the long line of eagerly waiting people and his handlers motioning for him to wrap things up, Watkins spent an intimate moment with Hall, as he told her to put her trust in a higher power.

“I will take his advice to heart, and really take time to develop my relationship with God,” she told The Atlanta Voice. “He is the one that I should follow. He is the one that I should look to for guidance and wisdom. And I am so grateful for God speaking through him [Watkins].”

Even those who inspire need inspiring. And the Buick Achievers awards provide hope for many who are deflated by the financial burden that comes with higher education.

Annually, Buick Achievers awards 100 qualifying students up to $25,000 per year for four years (up to five for qualified engineering programs).

Since its inception in 2011, the GM Foundation has awarded $16.5 million to about 3,300 students. Among these students, nearly one third are African American or Hispanic and more than 1,600 recipients are the first in their family to attend college.

As longstanding supporters of UNCF, GM and the GM Foundation have donated more than $15 million to the organization over the last two decades to help minorities and other outstanding students attend college in STEM and business related fields.

“Sometimes, society says that women and African Americans can’t pursue these types of careers and be successful,” Nartezya Dykes said. “So, it’s important that we get out there and make an effort, and engage ourselves in these type of fields, so that we can basically enhance and diversify the workforce.”