LB Branch NAACP Wins Gold Medal in Culinary Arts at the 2012 NAACP National ACT-SO Competition

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Long Beach Branch NAACP Culinary Arts Gold Medalist, Karina Yepez has won the National Gold Medal in Culinary Arts. The National Competition was held Houston, Texas, July 5 – July 9, 2012 during the NAACP National Convention. This is the second year of this Pilot Program and the first year for the Long Beach Branch NAACP to participate. Long Beach was invited to the program to represent the West Coast. This program is sponsored by Hyatt Hotel and Sodexo. The LB NAACP ACT-SO Chair is Charles D. Smith. Davian Freeman served as the West Coast Culinary Arts Project Coordinator. The other members of the ACT-SO Committee are Thyjuan Harris, Desiree Keys, Dr. Howard Wray, and President Naomi Rainey. This is just one of the examples that demonstrate Long Beach Branch NAACP is making a difference in the Long Beach community.

ACT-SO is an acronym for Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. There are 25 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, performing and visual arts, and culinary arts. Vernon Jarrett, a renowned author and journalist, initiated the idea of a program that would promote and reward academic achievers the same way sports heroes are honored.ACT-SO is a yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African American high school students. The ACT-SO program centers around the dedication and commitment of community volunteers and business leaders; to serve as mentors and coaches to promote academic and artistic excellence among students of color, especially African American students. High school students, who are citizens of the United States, enrolled in grades 9-12 and are amateurs in the categories of competition are able to participate. Program participants are teamed up with coaches in their appropriate categories in order to sharpen their skills for the spring local competition.

ACT-SO alumni occupy a wide array of careers including executive positions with corporations like Lockheed Martin and Citigroup—one even serves a vocal coach for FOX television’s “American Idol.” Famed ACT-SO alumni include musician Kanye West, actress JadaPinkett-Smith, filmmaker John Singleton and comedian Anthony Anderson.

Naomi Rainey, President of the Long Beach Branch NAACP, has been with the ACT-SO Program since its inception. If you would like information or to support the program you can send your tax-deductible donation to the Long Beach Branch NAACP at P.O. Box 1594 Long Beach, CA 90801. For more information, call (562) 856-7586.

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