Rising stars – celebrating our youth

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Upshaw lauded for compassion, commitment to community

RIVER HEBERT – The 2014 African Heritage Month poster celebrates youth and the rising stars in our communities and Summer-Joy Upshaw, a Grade 12 student at River Hebert District High School (RHDH), is most definitely a rising star.

River Hebert District High’s Summer-Joy Upshaw is still overwhelmed she was chosen to be one of six Nova Scotia youth featured on Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month poster. Her commitment to community and volunteerism, however, make it no surprise she deserved the accolade.

Upshaw is not your average student. She is a member of every committee and sport team at RHDH; this includes her role as student council president, yearbook editor, tutor and Students Against Victimized Endeavors representative. Along with being a strong student and leader on school grounds, Upshaw is also an avid volunteer in her community.

In her spare time, Upshaw can be found volunteering at the information desk at the local hospital and paying friendly visits to sick patients. She also takes the time to go door-to-door in the River Hebert community and canvas for the local branch of the Kidney Foundation

“I get a very rewarding feeling when I help people at a disadvantage,” Upshaw said.  “It is something I have always wanted to do.”

The volunteer group about which Upshaw is most passionate is Cumberland African Nova-Scotian Association (CANSA.) CANSA holds the vision is that all citizens, including persons with disabilities, African Nova Scotians and youth at risk be respected and grow socially, economically and culturally in Cumberland County. Summer works with CANSA to help organize activities focusing on African Nova Scotian heritage, community involvement and upkeep.

Despite Upshaw’s efforts in and out of school, she is still overwhelmed and shocked by the recognition that she is receiving as one of six Nova Scotia youths featured on this month’s African Heritage Month poster.

“I have never been so publicly regarded before,” Upshaw said. “It is overwhelming- but such a huge honour.”

Being featured on this year’s poster for African Heritage Month has been an amazing privilege for Upshaw, one that she will share with her family for generations.  

“Every year my family celebrates African heritage Month. Being on the poster this year has made it even more special,” she said. “I feel even more tied my community, family and heritage.”

Upshaw has been accepted to, and plans to attend, Saint Francis Xavier University next year where she will study Human Kinetics, with hopes of then advancing to Dalhousie Medical School. Along with her scholarly aspirations Upshaw intends to continue volunteering in school and within the community.

Organizations: Cumberland African Nova-Scotian Association, Kidney Foundation, Saint Francis Xavier University Dalhousie Medical School

Geographic location: River Hebert, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia

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  • Sandy Graham
    February 19, 2014 - 10:37

    Congratulations, Summer. You are an inspiration, and I am sure the energy you give your community is reciprocated, in that such giving is its own reward. Sandy Graham, Parrsboro