Our Shining Lights
Andrea J. Williams
Andrea is a 2016 graduate of The Learning Network. Currently, she attends Michigan State University, where she studies Human Biology on the premedical track. She maintains a 3.9 GPA while being in the Honors College and a Charles Drew Science Scholar. Andrea has made Michigan State University Dean’s List both semesters, and she is a recipient of the NAACP Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship and the William C. Ford Jr. Scholarship.
During summer of 2018, Andrea interned at Parkway Health Clinics in Shanghai, where she expanded her knowledge on different areas of the medical field. This unique experience allowed her to work with doctors and patients from all over the world. Andrea observed the differences of how doctors from different cultures approach medicine. Furthermore, Andrea has researched why Alzheimer’s is so prevalent in African American women. In addition, she created a culturally relevant pilot program that requires the Black Women’s Health Imperative to team up with the Alzheimer’s Association to educate the African American community and to actively research why African American women are developing the disease at a disproportional rate than other groups.
On campus, Andrea serves on the executive board for the American Medical Student Association as the Volunteer Coordinator. She is responsible for organizing weekly public service opportunities for members and fundraiser events. Andrea is also a member of Big Sister Little Sister, a program that provides young women skills for success, inspiration and guidance.
Over the past year, Andrea has been an active volunteer with Volunteers of America Michigan. Throughout her time at VOAM, Andrea has served three different communities to promote food security and educational advancement. Along with her continuous work with VOAM, Andrea also volunteers at the Origami Brain Rehabilitation Center located in Mason, MI. It is her mission to engage with patients who have recently undergone brain surgery to expand their language skills, memory and assist in the recovery process.
Previously, Andrea graduated from Concordia International School Shanghai in May of 2017. She has been blessed with the opportunity to learn about different cultures and how life differs in developing countries. During her senior year of high school, Andrea completed a service trip in Guangdong, China to increase children’s language skills, coordination, healthy lifestyles, proper hygiene techniques and furthering her knowledge of rural areas. Andrea is inspiration and shining example of how mentoring and exposure sets one’s path toward greater heights.
Leonard Cameron Jenkins
Leonard Cameron Jenkins is a senior student at the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, MI. Cameron’s artwork incorporates elements of illustrative forms, surrealistic concepts and metaphorical symbolism in attempts to empower viewers through storytelling, inspired by things like love, music, and nostalgia. Today, he uses a variety of creative techniques like drawing, painting, sculpting, video and music to document human experiences; viewers feel empowered by the narratives attached to each piece. This artist believes that self-expression through creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking deeper understanding of themselves.
Cameron participated in the Torch of Wisdom Foundation’s first art extravaganza in September 2018. His artwork was juried out of ninety-three phenomenal pieces of artwork from members of the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club. In addition, Cameron was selected as the featured artist to design TOWF’s 25th Anniversary commemorative print. He received a monetary prize and two complimentary tickets to the 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration. Copies of his signed print were given to VIP ticket holders attending the affair. Cameron’s design was inspired by the phrase, “A Moment in Time” which illustrates a hand receiving sand from a broken hourglass. The HAND represents the recipients who receive support, education, and funding through the generosity of the Foundation. The SAND symbolizes the services that The Torch of Wisdom Foundation pours into the community. The broken hourglass illustrates the concept of TIME; the unlimited hours of dedication, volunteerism, and donor support towards Changing Tomorrow TodayTM.
Presently, Cameron in the process of creating a series that follows his growth as a man, capturing specific moments in his development and growth. The first part of the trilogy series is called “Airy”, symbolized by the color blue and associated with the sea. It narrates his teenage years through experimental combinations of mediums like sculpture and collage. The second series is called, “Vermillion”, symbolized by a rich red color and is associated with the sky. This series reflects the current state of his life, stepping into adulthood. The series takes the viewer through celebrations of confidence, sexuality and pride in self, through traditional drawing techniques, moving images and sound. The final series in the trilogy is entitled “Beloved” which will be represented by the color yellow and associated with the land. Cameron is a rising star with a multitude of talents and opportunities awaiting him.
The 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration is
Dedicated to Monique C. Parnell Phifer
Monique C. Parnell Phifer was a faithful donor and dedicated volunteer of The Torch of Wisdom Foundation, Inc. for several years. She was dependable and reliable, and refused to say “no” to a mission or vision she believed in. Monique actively served on our 25th Anniversary Gala Steering Team and was a contributing Stansbury Sustainer donor to the Keep the Torch Burning Capital Campaign. In addition, she faithfully supported our programs and events to ensure they were a major success.
On August 30, 2018, Monique gained her heavenly wings. Our 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration event was dedicated to Monique and her phenomenal legacy. She and her husband, Drake, secured the entertainment, Kindred the Family Soul and provided significant contributions to the vision of the 25th Anniversary Gala. All who are associated with the Torch of Wisdom Foundation are thankful for Monique’s varied contributions and miss her immensely. Thank you, Monique for being our ANGEL and the true embodiment of a woman of excellence. Thank you for being an ambassador of Changing Tomorrow TodayTM. You are forever in our hearts and remembered with much love!