Kareem Wedderburn, The 11th annual Ahadi Youth Award 2020 recipient, was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. An independent scholar more than ready to explore new ways of thinking and learning, Wedderburn has many outstanding and wonderful qualities. Possibly most signiﬁcant is his rare blend of academic exploration, analytical abilities, and interpersonal skills. “He attacks all aspects of his life with a calm considered determination that shows incredible responsibility and focus. Clearly, he has the values and integrity to always do the right thing,” wrote his school counselor, John M. Szymczyk, who nominated Wedderburn for this honor.
One of seven close-knit siblings raised by their mom, Wedderburn challenged himself throughout his Springfield Central High School career with advanced placement coursework, leadership in the leadership in the school theater productions, and a pivotal Upward Bound program in social justice. “I am a proud alumni of Northﬁeld Mount Hermon Upward Bound,” Wedderburn said. Upward Bound’s mission is to enable ﬁrst-generation and low-income students to succeed in high school and enroll in college. The program also has a signiﬁcant social justice element. “UB’s social justice program has allowed me to have productive dialogue on a variety of current issues, developed me as an activist, and in general made me more aware of the struggles that Black people and other oppressed groups face,” Wedderburn said.
He attacks all aspects of his life with a calm considered determination that shows incredible responsibility and focus.
Wedderburn became passionate about public transit when he started taking the PVTA to school every day. Since then he has studied, written about, and photographed transit as a hobby. He has also made it his career focus. Currently he is a freshman at Westfield State University, majoring in Regional Planning. “Frequent and effective transit is a key factor in improving cities and rural areas,” Wedderburn said. “It’s especially important for poor people and people of color to have access to good public transit, as it provides affordable means to get to schools, jobs, medical care, and more. I plan on having a career in the transit ﬁeld and help improve transit systems.”
Wedderburn’s drive for success, his zest and enthusiasm for learning, and his keen hope to make a positive difference in the world all add up to the qualities honored by the Ahadi Youth Award.
About the Award
Named for the Swahili word for promise, the Ahadi Youth Award is presented to a young African American who excels in academics and performs admirable service to the Greater Springfield community. Eligible candidates must be age 19 or younger, live in or have strong ties to the Greater Springfield area, and be currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, or 12.
The African Hall Subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The group has administered this annual award since 2009.
The Ubora and Ahadi Youth awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in the fall. For additional information, please call 413-314-6418, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.