Success Stories

Brian McGowan

Class of 2001, Frank and Marie Blechman Scholar

I constantly reflect on words from the late Mr. Segaloff, “I believe in you.” He shook my hand most mornings as a kid, looked me square in the eye and said that he believed in me. It is clear the An Achievable Dream program is working and makes dreams come true. Despite growing up in the projects and overcoming adverse situations, my team believed in me and saw my potential. All it takes is for someone to open the door. Doors have been opened to me that my family could not have imagined. Sponsors, continue to make a difference in the lives of students like me. It is your support that plays a vital role in producing high-achieving students who will become contributing members of society. 

Brian McGowan earned a Masters degree in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University and received a Ph.D. from Indiana University in July 2013. He is an assistant professor of higher education at Indiana State University.

Michael Banks

Class of 2001, Frank and Marie Blechman Scholar

“As an organization, An Achievable Dream is an example of success on several levels: the public and private sectors combining visions of a greater, more productive community through investment in the lives of youth; collaborating and communicating together to achieve a dream nearly impossible to do alone; and, in 20 years, growing and adapting to yield great rewards in young lives that permeate through society.”

Michael Banks graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Psychology and Religious Studies. He now serves as an assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel in Newport News. Previous positions include Juvenile and Substance Abuse Counseling with the City of Newport News.

Mar’keta Lassiter

Class of 2002, Mary Cox-Hughes Scholar

“An Achievable Dream took care of us with encouragement, summer tours of colleges, paying for testing, college applications, etc. An Achievable Dream teachers and counselors held us to certain high standards, but we knew they also cared about our well being, not just academics.”

Mar’keta Lassiter attended AAD summer tennis camp in 1993, and was a member of the first 4th grade class when the school opened at the former Dunbar-Erwin Elementary. After graduating from Heritage High School in 2002, she studied at Elizabeth City State University then transferred to Norfolk State University where she earned a BA degree in sociology. Although she held her “dream job” as a program manager with an in-home counseling service in Williamsburg, Lassiter felt called to return to school to study theology at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond. She plans to use her interest in art, music and dance as a therapist in the future. Lassiter’s experiences and the people she’s met through An Achievable Dream have made a lasting impression on her life. Remembering the daily morning program she commented “when you recite those banners, you start to live them.”

Bathsheba Smithen

Class of 2002, Mary Cox-Hughes Scholar

“With the support of An Achievable Dream, education became one of my most valuable possessions. I’ll never forget one of the sayings we said every morning, “I can go to college if I work hard.” The more I repeated this statement, the more college became a reality. Not only that, but being exposed to activities such as the opera, tennis and plays, opened my mind to a whole new world that I would never have experienced.”

While in college, Bathsheba Smithen was rejected by her mother. Two years later, she graduated with a biology degree from Virginia Tech. No family member attended her graduation; however, friends and mentors from An Achievable Dream came in support. Following undergraduate school, she enrolled in the George Mason University (GMU) masters degree program in Health Policy and Administration. Shortly after, her mother abandoned her three brothers. Assuming full custody of her brothers, she graduated from GMU and is now teaching critical reading at Trinity Washington University and travels as a motivational speaker and performer.  A published writer, poet and motivational speaker, Smithen was named a “first-rate thinker” by world-renowned poet Dr. Nikki Giovanni.

Amon Everett

Class of 2006, Smithfield Foods Scholar

“An Achievable Dream has been with me every step of the way. The teachers believed in me and encouraged me to never let my dreams die and to never give up.”

Amon Everett joined the Army following graduation and served in Egypt during Operation Enduring Freedom. He became a police officer with the City of Norfolk in June 2009.

Shukita Whitaker Massey

Class of 2001, Frank and Marie Blechman Scholar

“There were numerous times while I was growing up that I heard that the odds were against me. Because of my background and where I was from, society had already forecast my future. I chose not to believe anything that would go against my goals and dreams, utilizing the resources and character-building lessons from An Achievable Dream.”

Shukita Massey graduated from Mary Baldwin College with a B.A. in business administration and minors in political science and leadership studies. She received her law degree from the College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law and now serves as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office in Hampton, Virginia. As instilled in her by AAD, Massey is committed to community involvement. She actively participates on various boards and organizations throughout the area, such as the Newport News Human Rights Commission and the Peninsula Bar Association.

Franklin Roberson

Class of 2004, Alan and Beverly Diamonstein Scholar

“If it were not for An Achievable Dream, I know I would not be where I am today.”

Franklin Roberson is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering. Roberson attributes his success to the An Achievable Dream program. “Some people say the military has changed me. I simply reply with, ‘No, it hasn’t; the military has only provided me with the environment, and I chose to use the discipline to be successful.’ This discipline was instilled in me back in 1996 when I was chosen to be a part of the Achievable Dream program.”