MCC Presents African American History Month Leadership Awards

Manchester, Connecticut - (February 19, 2014)…Three leadership awards were presented at the opening ceremony for African American History month at Manchester Community College. The awards are named in honor of prominent African Americans who made significant leadership contributions to history.

The College Student Leadership Award is given in honor of Jibreel Khazan, formerly known as Ezell Blair, Jr. On February 1, 1960, four college students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University sat down at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, challenging the store’s policy on segregation. This year’s MCC College Student Leadership award is given to Shaquana Johnson.

Shaquana Johnson, of East Hartford, graduated from Howell Cheney Technical High School with a Certification in Computer Aided Drafting and Design in 2013. After graduating from high school she enrolled at MCC to major in Social Services and was selected to receive a Manchester Community College Foundation scholarship award. She plans to transfer to the University of Saint Joseph in Fall 2014. Johnson’s aspiration is to become a caseworker for the elderly and disabled.

Shaquana is a well-rounded student, a member of the Sister-to-Sister mentoring program and a volunteer for Habitat For Humanity. Outside of the classroom she spends her time volunteering on and off campus. She is an intern at the Urban League of Greater Hartford where she works in the youth department. She enjoys mentoring and educating high school students on career competency skills.

The Community Leadership Award is given in honor of Shirley Chishom, who was the first black woman elected to Congress. She served in Congress from 1969 to 1983 and in 1972 became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States. This year’s Community Leadership Award is given to State Representative Aaron Lewis.

Dr. Aaron D. Lewis is a New England native. A spiritual leader, publisher, ghostwriter, and author, Dr. Lewis has traveled to more than 40 countries and 41 of the 50 United States sharing a message of hope and personal destiny, while promoting fair education. Dr. Lewis has ghostwritten more than 160 books for his clients on topics such as spiritual healing, natural health, Christian interest and personal finance. Under his own name, Dr. Lewis has authored eight books. He is the CEO/President of Content Precision, Inc., a full-service marketing and writing firm and is the President and Founder of The Scribe’s Institute, Inc.  a non-profit organization dedicated to child literacy, child advocacy and veteran support.   

Dr. Lewis holds eight earned degrees inlcuding; a B.A in Spanish with a minor in World Religions from Central Connecticut State University, a M.S in Publishing from Pace University , and a D.Min. in Pastoral Studies and a Ph.D. In Philosophy, both from Life Christian University. He is a graduate of the professional publishing course at Stanford University and is a candidate in the Global Diplomacy program at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. He is the 2013 recipient of the 100 Men of Color Award in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. 

The Employee Leadership Award is given in honor of Mary Bethune-Cookman. Mary Bethune-Cookman was an American educator and civil rights leader best known for starting a school for African American students in Daytona Beach, Florida that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University, and for being an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This year’s MCC Employee Leadership Award is given to Dr. Deborah Simmons. 

Dr. Simmons began her career at Manchester Community College in 1995 and she is currently a Professor of Music. Since her employment, she has expanded both class enrollment and course offerings.  Deborah played an integral role in the establishment the Music Studies associate in arts degree, the only 2-year music degree in the State of Connecticut, and currently serves as coordinator for the program.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and a master of arts, master of education and a doctorate of education in the areas of music therapy, guitar instruction and adult learning, respectively, from Teachers College Columbia University.

Simmons is also active in various professional and community organizations and is committed to the community’s involvement and awareness of the arts.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The college offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. The main, park-like campus, which is easily accessible from I-84, is also the home of Great Path Academy, a middle college high school, serving grades 9-12. The college’s second location, the Manchester Community College Arts and Education Center, opened in downtown Manchester in 2012. MCC takes pride in the quality of programs and the many ways we’ve helped students, families, businesses and community grow over the past five decades.



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News Item Posted On: February 19, 2014
For Additional Information Contact: Bonnie Willgoos at 860-512-2928