Memphis as Usual: Whitehaven students set stage for future

May 1st, 2017

Memphis Business Journal | Greg Akers

I recently experienced one of my favorite things ever in Memphis.

The morning of Thursday, April 13, dozens of Whitehaven High School seniors took turns walking up to a microphone.

Some of the kids seemed nervous, which was not surprising, because they stood on stage before an auditorium full of hundreds of spectators: classmates, peers, family members, teachers, counselors, school and school system administrators, returning alumni, Memphis business, government and religious leaders, — all of them in attendance just to hear the students speak, clinging to their every word.

Everyone was there to find out where these star Whitehaven students had decided to attend college.

But, these weren’t the heavily recruited student-athletes seen every year on TV networks and sports websites during National Football Signing Day, announcing what big-time program and coach they’re going to play for.

At Whitehaven’s Academic Signing Day, 42 seniors stepped up to the podium and gave their name [cheers from friends/family]; announced the value, more than a million dollars each, in total post-secondary scholarships they had been offered [thunderous applause]; and declared where they would be pursuing their academic futures [exuberant pandemonium].

Local college officials were there, too. But the University of Memphis wasn’t represented by Coach Mike Norvell or Coach Tubby Smith, waiting to see who would sign — it was Provost Karen Weddle-West in attendance. It was great fun watching as she delighted in and gave a standing ovation to each new U of M Tiger.

Whitehaven’s “Million Dollar Tigers” are listed on below. Each travels forth with the hopes of the community at their back; imbued by the strength and wisdom of their teachers and tutors (such as those from the Peer Power Foundation’s chapter); with a horizon of unlimited opportunity ahead.

The students are the “leaders of Memphis in the next 10 years,” Whitehaven principal Dr. Vincent Hunter told the assembly. “Today is a wonderful day.”

Members of Whitehaven High School’s Class of 2017 who received more than $1 million in college scholarship offers, with the amount they received and the school they’ll attend.

Tierney Aldridge, $2.39MUniversity of Memphis
Anthony Atkins, $1.9M, Barry University
Adalyn Barnes, $1.36M, University of Memphis
Taylor Bolton, $1.14M, Southern University and A&M College
Fatimata Bousso, $1.37M, University of Memphis
Shaunessey Burks, $1.32M, Alcorn State University
Kenicia Cathey, $1.2M, LeMoyne-Owen College
Christopher Clark, $1.46M, Tennessee State University
Alanna Collins, $1.9M, University of Memphis
Anthony Geter, $1.06M, Tennessee State University
Anitra Higgins, $1.38M, Purdue University
Kedrin Jefferson, $1.03M, West Point/United States Military Academy
Aaron Johnson, $1.31M, Middle Tennessee State University
Aureon Johnson, $2.77M, Middle Tennessee State University
Brandi Jones, $1.29M, Christian Brothers University
Cassietta Jones, $1.56M, Howard University
Cherise Marion, $1.47M, University of Memphis
Tyler Mitchell, $1.29M, Tuskegee University
Khara Mobley, $1.56M, Howard University
Savannah Neal, $1.57M, Xavier University of Louisiana
Adrena Nelson, $4.51M, University of San Francisco
Zariah Nolan, $9.49M, Dillard University
Steve Robinson, $1.36M, Middle Tennessee State University
Markia Savage, $2.37M, LeMoyne-Owen College
Hannah Scott, $1.68M, Clark Atlanta University
Zuri Shaw, $1.02M, Xavier University of Louisiana
Tabriya Shields, $3.51M, Alcorn State University
Terykah Sims, $3.36M, Howard University
J’Len Smith, $1.07M, Western Illinois University
Azaria Smoot, $1.12M, Warner Pacific College
Cherina Spencer, $2.88M, Christian Brothers University
Nala Swift, $1.61M, University of Memphis
LeJordan Tate, $2.4M, Middle Tennessee State University
Kania Taylor, $1.53M, Easter Kentucky University
Mariah Taylor, $1.09M, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Cierra Vereen, $1.34M, Colorado State University
Karrah Walker, $1.33M, University of Memphis
Mackenzie Walker, $3.98M, Hampton University
Kierra Weston, $1.29M, Dillard University
Aaron Whitmore, $1.34M, University of Memphis
Jeremy Williams, $2.18M, Rhodes College
Shanice Wilson, $5.16M, Xavier University of Louisiana

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I must always work harder than others.


Mario J. Fortney

Mario Fortney is a Program Director at Whitehaven High School. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he received a Master’s in Business Administration and Business Analytics.

 He has worked with Peer Power since (2004) its inception beginning  as a high school tutor. He earned a full academic scholarship to UT Knoxville.  He has made a very strong commitment to using his talent to positively impact education in Memphis. Mario is a huge proponent of the Peer Power Model and knows it will continue to demonstrate its contributions to students' academic achievement, social and civic growth.

"Peer Power is what is right about Memphis."