Five alumni on the road to life and career success
In 2015, five Long Beach City College (LBCC) students from one Associated Student Body (ASB) club graduated with their Associate Degrees and collectively transferred to Northern California universities. Sugar (McQuarn) Caradonna, Kehfun Ikemba (Eron Liddy), Bresheena (Baseel) Okeke, Tiffany Onyejekwe, and Nailah Sewell all completed bachelor’s degrees and are building great careers while fulfilling their personal dreams.
The LBCC Foundation invested in the future of these Developing Afro American Professionals (DAAP) Club members by awarding them scholarships for their academic achievements. The arc of their lives changed forever and the LBCC Foundation played a profound role in their goal
attainment. “Donating to student scholarships is not only about the financial support it provides, it also is an affirmation for the student that community believes in them” said Paul Kaminski, CEO of the LBCC Foundation.
Sugar Caradonna received a scholarship from the Rotary Club of Long Beach which provided her with much-needed financial support. In addition, she received a stipend from the African American Scholars fund that helped her secure a seat on the Transfer Center’s Northern California College Tour. “The stipend made it possible to go on the tour – every dollar I earned working was spent before it touched my hand,” said Caradonna. In 2018, Caradonna earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from San Francisco State University and will continue her education by pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. She currently works in the Labor and Delivery Unit at Kaiser in Redwood City. Caradonna and her husband are proud parents of two daughters and recently purchased their first home in Manteca, Ca.
Kehfun Ikemba was recognized for his academic achievements by receiving the Marmion Family Scholarship; the Hazel M. Bryant Memorial Scholarship; and a scholarship in honor of Dr. Dave Gayle from the African American Scholars Fund. “I felt privileged to receive the Hazel M. Bryant Memorial Scholarship. I could count on it every semester while completing my BS degree,” said Ikemba. Ikemba graduated from CSU East Bay in 2019 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. His career is quickly advancing as he is now a Business Intelligence Analyst for Uniliver. Ikmeba currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife, son, and daughter.
Bresheena Okeke cites enrolling at LBCC as the smartest choice she could have made. “I received a college scholarship from my church and was later awarded the Harley B. Smith Family Scholarship through the LBCC Foundation. I also received a stipend from the African American Scholars Fund for the Northern California College Tour” said Okeke. After successfully transferring to San Francisco State University, Okeke secured an internship with Kaiser Permanente. The internship led to a permanent position after Okeke completed a BS in Business Administration in Spring 2018. She now works as a Community Health Liaison for the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre and is completing her second semester in the Master of Social Work program at CSU Long Beach. Okeke, her husband and daughter reside in Long Beach.
Tiffany Onyejekwe’s family expectation was for her to go to college and maintain a high GPA. She lived up to that expectation by maintaining a 3.8 GPA and being awarded the Ruth Wright Scholarship during her second year at LBCC. Onyejekwe transferred to San Francisco State University and graduated with a degree in Psychology in Spring 2017. She returned to Southern California and briefly considered following in her father’s footsteps as an attorney. Yet, she found her own voice from the experience of living in Northern California and forged a different path by starting a career with Nike. Onyejekwe uses her knowledge of psychology, advertising, and social media in her job as the Operations Manager for the Nike Content Studio in Los Angeles. “I had great professors at LBCC that took me under their wings. They taught me that college is what you make of it. I had to define my own path,” said Onyejekwe. She is more open to creative endeavors by working on a film short and competing in the second round of applications for a Fellowship in screenwriting. Onyejekwe lives in Cerritos, California.
Nailah Sewell made the most of her academic experience at LBCC as a student in the Honors Program and being awarded a highly competitive Rotary Club of Long Beach Honors Scholarship. Sewell maintained a 3.7 GPA and positioned herself to apply to three UC campuses in addition to Howard University. After earning Associate Degrees in Communications, Psychology, and Sociology from LBCC, Sewell felt prepared for the academic rigor of UC Berkeley. Her efforts to stay academically and socially engaged helped her to also receive scholarships while attending UC Berkeley. Sewell graduated in Spring 2018 with a 3.6 GPA. She double majored in Anthropology and African American Studies. “Moving to Northern California and attending UC Berkeley helped me to have a global view of the world,” said Sewell. Sewell turned her passion for sustainable fashion into an online business. She currently lives in the Long Beach community.
As members of an organized ASB Club, they helped each other stay on track and became force multipliers. The success of these ambitious alumni underscores the synergy students develop while attending classes in person, establishing a network with like-minded students, and applying for LBCC Foundation scholarships.
“Never underestimate the power of your donation to change and inspire lives. Students who receive scholarships and actively engage in campus life chart a course for success. I hear this time, and time again from former students,” said Kaminski.
Are you interested in supporting the next generation of scholars? Your tax-deductible donation to the LBCC Foundation will be greatly appreciated. The LBCC Foundation can also help businesses and organizations start an annual or one-time scholarship.