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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Bayside students land scholarships

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall honored six borough students with scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000 at an annual awards reception in Corona which celebrates African-American heritage.

The Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, at 100-01 Northern Blvd. in Corona, hosted the African-American Heritage Month Awards Reception Saturday, which honors students and community leaders from the borough. This year’s student winners were chosen from a pool of 65 applications, Marshall said.

“I have a great deal of confidence in the human spirit,” Marshall told the crowd of more than 50 attendees at the awards ceremony. “Working together, we will recognize the contributions of everyday people who make Queens a better place.”

The top four scholarship winners each received $1,000, while an additional two students who were chosen won $500.

“If you really put your mind to it and find the resources and mentors, you will succeed,” said Rei Perez, vice president of global communications for Citi, which was one of the sponsors of the scholarships.

Two of the winners, Maria Abaya and Regina Daraud, attend Astoria’s Newcomers High School, while two others, Malaiya McGee and Sonya Stanley, are students at Queens Village’s Martin Van Buren High School. The other two students to receive scholarships were Trevena Goulbourne, who goes to Bayside High School, and Malika Jones, who attends Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside.

“I promise to always give the best of myself,” said Daraud, who moved to the United States from West Africa in 2007 and now is a nursing home volunteer. “I consider myself African, but I’m also African American.”

McGee, who is a senior at Martin Van Buren, quoted former South African President Nelson Mandela in her scholarship speech: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Abaya, who moved to the United States from Africa, said she has learned a lot about African-American history at Newcomers High School.

“I want to thank all those who fought for us so we could be here today,” she said.

Several Queens community leaders were also honored during the ceremony, including Jack Cherry, president of Liberty Office Products Ltd., and Michael Cogswell, director of Corona’s Louis Armstrong House Museum.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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