Wyman Honors Five Alumni for Commitment to Area Youth

May 8, 2024

Contact: Heather Lasher Todd

Wyman Honors Five Alumni for Commitment to Area Youth

Eureka, Mo. – Five talented Wyman alumni are using the leadership skills and strong community connections they built in the Wyman Leaders Program to play a positive role in the lives of a new generation of area teens. Wyman recently honored these individuals during the organization’s April gala.

“The leadership and support Brandi, Kendrick, Cherelle, Danielle, and Breia provide for youth in the region is profound, and I am truly inspired by their journeys and career paths,” said Allison Williams, Wyman President and CEO. “Along with the leadership of our current Board Chair, Jaylen Bledsoe, who is also a Wyman Leaders alumnus, their commitment to the success of young people is truly Wyman’s mission coming full circle.”

About the awardees

Brandi Higgins – Wyman Leaders Alum, Class of 2013 
Brandi attended Missouri State University and graduated in 2019. In 2023, she graduated from the University of Missouri – St. Louis with her master’s in Higher Education and Higher Education Administration. A self-described youth-centered developer and energizer, young people she has served at Wyman will testify to that! Brandi has always followed her educational goals with deep tenacity, and modeled the same for the students she served. Following summer work with Wyman, Brandi spent two years working full-time in the Wyman Leaders program, supporting young people during very challenging years in the pandemic. She now works at Washington University as Assistant Director of First Year Programming in the Taylor Family Center for Student Success

Kendrick Hooks – TOP and Wyman Leaders Alum, Class of 2013 
Kendrick attended Missouri State University and graduated with a degree in Speech and Theatre Education in 2017 and was a recipient of a full scholarship to MSU due to his participation with Wyman. While in high school, Kendrick participated in both what is now the Wyman Leaders Program and the Teen Outreach Program. Kendrick worked for Wyman during the summers, serving as a mentor and role model for the teens, all while gaining skills for a soon-to-be successful career in education. Graduating from Missouri State with a dream of helping youth discover their voice and leadership through speech and drama, Kendrick has spent the last several years teaching in the St. Louis area and is now empowering teens to realize their talents and dreams by teaching Theatre at University City High School. He just successfully directed Little Shop of Horrors at the school, with a live orchestra. 

Cherelle Washington – Wyman Leaders Alum, Class of 2006 
Cherelle graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2010 and earned her Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the same institution in 2014. In the first graduating class of what is now Wyman Leaders, Cherelle was also one of the first work in the program during the summer. She has impacted the lives of hundreds of young people through her work in college access across the state of Missouri, including service through the Missouri College Advising Corps; an academic advisor at UMSL; and Program Manager at KC Scholars in Kansas City. She is now the Director of College Access & Career Readiness at the Missouri College & Career Attainment Network, working to bring greater equity to college and career in Missouri by addressing common barriers for students across the state.

Danielle Washington – Wyman Leaders Alum, Class of 2006
Danielle graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2010, and in 2011 achieved her master’s in Social Work from the same institution. Like her twin sister, Danielle was also in the first graduating class of what is now Wyman Leaders, and one of the first alum to work in the program during the summer. During her full-time work with Wyman, Danielle was instrumental in establishing supports for students after high school graduation, including deep work with higher education partners. Always a trusted, wise, and committed support for the students she served, Danielle became Senior Director of Programs at Wyman, bringing her depth of understanding, deep compassion, and wisdom to all of Wyman’s work. Danielle is now the Chief Program Officer for Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, leading impact for thousands of girls across the state.

Breia Williams – Wyman Leaders Alum, Class of 2007 
Breia graduated from Fontbonne University in 2018, and in 2022 graduated from the University of Missouri – Saint Louis with a master’s degree in Social Work. Breia spent many dedicated summers as a group and team leader in what is now the Wyman Leaders program, and worked in our Teen Outreach Program during the school year, developing deep and caring relationships with hundreds of young people. Breia’s caring and compassionate heart has led her to provide case management, critical supports, and a sense of hope for young people navigating crisis situations at Youth in Need and BJC HealthCare. Breia’s current work as a social worker at the Grand Center Arts Academy combines her love of the arts with her compassion and skills as a social worker.

About Wyman Leaders

Wyman Leaders is a nine-year, proven youth development program created by Wyman. Teens enter Wyman Leaders the summer before ninth grade, at a pivotal time in their education and lives. They finish the program as adults in their early 20s, four years after high school graduation. While in the program, they develop life and leadership skills, enter and complete college and career education programs, and create strong community connections. They participate in immersive camp experiences, individualized coaching, postsecondary tours, and enrichment opportunities. 100% of Wyman Leaders graduate from high school on time, and research shows that participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education at rates that exceed youth with similar socioeconomic backgrounds.

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About Wyman:
Wyman’s mission is to empower teens from economically disadvantaged circumstances to lead successful lives and build strong communities. Through Wyman programs, young people create consistent, positive relationships with adults who help them build life skills, develop a positive sense of self, and make healthy connections with others and the community. They become leaders, focus on the future, and give back. To learn more about Wyman programs, click here.