Venus Speaks to High School 'Dreamers'
1/7/04 5:19 PM
MIAMI [Liberty City], Fla. – Some called it a perfect match. Others regarded the recent gathering of 80 eleventh graders at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, which featured a visit with Venus Williams, a dream come true.
The students, in this instance, happened to be “Dreamers,” the name for participants in the “I Have a Dream®” Foundation program that promises children early on, if you stay in school and graduate, your state college or vocational tuition will be paid.
The group that met with the world-ranked tennis superstar were “Dreamers” in the Miami “I Have a Dream” Foundation program. They are among the 97 “Dreamers” sponsored by the Trump family, developers of Williams Island and Acqualina in South Florida. Approximately 30 of the students attend Miami Northwestern, while the other 67 go to 13 other South Florida high schools.
Stephanie Trump founded the local chapter in 1995 and her family became sponsors when the students were second graders. In keeping with the mission of the national IHAD Foundation, a 501©(3) non-profit organization founded in 1981, the Trumps are among those helping children from low-income areas reach their educational and career goals by providing a comprehensive program of mentoring, tutoring and life skills enrichment with an assured opportunity for higher education.
“Our objective is to help ensure that the children graduate with literacy and become proud and productive citizens,” Trump said.
“I can’t think of a better or more exciting role model for these ‘Dreamers’ than Venus Williams, and she gave generously of her time to speak with them,” Trump noted. “Venus is young and has worked so hard and achieved so much. She is someone the ‘Dreamers’ truly admire.”
Even off the court, Williams made an impact, scoring winning points while she gave an overview of her family life, schooling and career to the attentive, wide-eyed audience, which also included some parents. She conveyed several poignant messages: Believe in yourself and work hard. Surround yourself with supportive, caring people and avoid people who distract you or are a negative influence. If you care about yourself, you’ll make the right decisions. Give 100% every time so you won’t have any regrets. If you lose, work harder. Do whatever it takes to win and reach your dreams.
Other than having a winning tennis career, Williams – a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – admitted that she has also dreamed of careers in design. She recently opened an interior design business, V Starr, in Jupiter and also aspires to be a fashion designer.
“To do something well, you need an education. I really enjoyed school and wasn’t allowed to bring home bad grades. Being well rounded also helps, and so does carrying yourself in a way that invites a supportive circle of friends,” Williams said.
Following her talk, Williams received gifts of appreciation from the local IHAD chapter and from Dr. Steve Gallon III, principal of Miami Northwestern. The tennis star also graciously posed for pictures, joined the students for a pizza party, and sliced the cake that had been made in her honor.
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