Dedrick Leonard spent 2 years in Georgia's foster care system.
Dedrick Leonard, age 18 of Georgia, was named the Most Honorable Youth by the Social Organization of Lifting Literacy at an MLK celebration at Emory University. He was also honored as an Outstanding Youth by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Gala. He serves as the Community Outreach chair for the DeKalb County Board of Youth Commissioners and is a peer advocate and graduation speaker for the Orange Duffel Bag Initiative, which, as a foundation, seeks to provide training, coaching and mentoring to at-risk youth, as well as providing support to their guardians and supportive adults. His desire is to contribute to a spirit of offering hope and enriching young lives. He personally provides follow-up and mentoring to graduates of the program. He also serves as a youth minister with a local church.
He is the presiding secretary for Nu Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, a junior program chapter which focuses on building scholarship funds and community service. He managed to maintain all A’s and B’s in high school despite an unstable living situation and other hardships with his unemployed mother. At age 16, he lost contact with his mother after an eviction from public housing due to unpaid utility bills. He describes that they “went their separate ways,” each living as nomads. He spent some time living with various friends until falling into deep feelings of hopelessness and despair. Several months after his mother disappeared, he was taken in by a member of his church until entering treatment for depression. He was then released to the Department of Family and Children Services and entered foster care. Despite the challenges of living in a group home for boys, he expresses gratitude for the opportunities and stability presented to him there.
“Dedrick has demonstrated that he has the skill, talent, and passion for advocating on behalf of foster youth,” informs his attorney, Aviance Jenkins. “He shows wisdom and maturity beyond his years.” He is described as being an articulate and compassionate person with exemplary leadership abilities.
He has his vision set on the University of Georgia, after he graduates from high school in the coming Spring, to study marketing and branding. His résumé can already speak to many awards, leadership work and volunteer work.