by Cherese Colston, Published May 10, 2012
Sean Moua, an Eastern Michigan University freshman, was one of only eight volunteers from the Youth Initiative Project to be honored with the "50 Promising Youth Legacy Award," for outstanding involvement in the Detroit community.
The Skillman Foundation presented the awards to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Each awardee received a $10,000 scholarship towards college expenses. Winners were selected for their extraordinary leadership skills and a strong commitment to improving their community.
Moua, who has participated in the Youth Initiative Project for nearly two years, called the award a surreal experience.
"I can't describe how happy I was to receive this award," Moua said. "Being a part of the Youth Initiative Project gives you that great feeling of helping others live a better life."
Moua, an East Detroit High School graduate, mentored young teen males in the Detroit Osborn Community. In his role, Moua developed leadership workshops, male summits and prevention exercises to help teens avoid violence in the neighborhoods. He says mentoring young teens has been rewarding.
"Teens go through the program and come out on the other end more responsible for their actions and with a noticeable change of heart," Moua said.
Moua, who is majoring in pre-pharmacy at Eastern Michigan, already has plans in the works for improving the community once he establishes his pharmacist career.
"My short-term plan is to develop better strategies to help keep teens out of drugs and violence," said Moua. "As for long-term, my plan is to provide medications for the people in the community who can't afford it."
As the struggles for teens get harder, Moua believes that now is the time where mentoring begins to make a real impact.
"Being selfish and having everything doesn't fulfill happiness," said Moua. "Helping others brings happiness and, at the end of the day, you know you did something good to change a person's life for the better."
The Skillman Foundation's chief aim is to help develop good schools and neighborhoods for children. The Coleman A. Young Foundation administers the scholarships and creates mentoring opportunities to help the students' academic progress. The two foundations collaborated to create the 50 Promising Youth Legacy Award.