Kendra Grimes sets her focus on education


2006 Edna Hart Keeper of the Dream scholarship recipient Kendra Grimes, 17, left, shares a laugh with 3rd grader Mikala Oneal, 9, at Lake Forest Elementary School. Grimes volunteers as a reading mentor with the Teen Trendsetter program every Thursday.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 10:32 p.m.

Facts

Award recipient to speak Monday

What: Kendra Grimes, 2006 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award recipient, will give a speech titled "Empowerment Through Education" as part of the National Holiday Kickoff Program. Also, the Annual Commemorative March starts at 1 p.m. at MLK Memorial Gardens, downtown, and travels to MLK Multipurpose Center, Waldo Road; and a Gospel Extravaganza starts at 2 p.m. at the MLK Multi-Purpose Center.
When: noon Monday Where: Downtown Community Plaza For more information: Call 376-2442

Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream must have looked something like her.
Kendra Grimes, a senior at Eastside High School, is the 2006 recipient of the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream scholarship. On Monday, she will be the keynote speaker at the National Holiday Kickoff Program at the Downtown Community Plaza and will be inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.'s High School Hall of Fame.
Kendra embodies the the qualities of the late civic leader that the commission's selection committee seeks in the award recipient: leadership, service, community and religious involvement, and academic excellence.
"She met all of our criteria," says Rodney Long, president of the commission. "She's very diverse."
Kendra was the "most compelling" of this year's four applicants for the annual $2,500 minimum scholarship, which was first awarded in 1989. (The amount of the scholarship varies and will be announced at a later date.) She is quietly confident, possessing composure beyond her 17 years. Though she's ready with a smile and has an easy laugh, she is a serious student committed to helping others.
"Most people would say I'm a nerd," says Kendra, who has between a 3.6 and 3.7 grade point average in Eastside's International Baccalaureate Program.
Marie Herring, a pre-calculus teacher at Eastside, has known Kendra's family for about 10 years and gave her the application for the scholarship.
"She's just always been a little lady," Herring says. "Now, as a senior, she's just the essence of finer womanhood."
Kendra, who was born in Gainesville and now lives near Waldo, hopes to attend Emory University or the University of Florida, major in accounting and become a corporate lawyer.
She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Upward Bound, a college preparatory program for low-income or potential first-generation college students. She is involved with the youth group at her church, Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist, and volunteers with Chain Reaction, a youth leadership organization through March of Dimes; Teen Trendsetters, a reading mentorship program; Interact service club; and is a founding member of Eastside's Partners in Adolescent Lifestyle Support (PALS).
Annetta McCloud, associate director of Upward Bound, has guided Grimes through her four years with the program.
"She's just like the perfect student," McCloud says. "How she balances (all of her activities) is really extraordinary to me."
Kendra credits her parents and sister, Candice, 21, with inspiring her to excel.
"They really pushed me to do my best," she says of her mother, Noreen, a teacher's aide a Lofton High School, and father, Paul, a truck driver for Lowe's.
Education has always been a focus in her family - her parents won't let her get a job while she's still in school.
It's fitting with the theme of this year's King celebration, and the subject of Kendra's 20- to 30-minute speech, "Empowerment Through Education."
"I see the hardships that come with not having a good education," Kendra says.
Much like King was at a young age, Grimes is "ahead of her time," Long says.
"We're looking for great and outstanding things from her."
Sarah L. Stewart can be reached at 338-3103 or sarah.stewart@gvillesun.com.

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