They serve inner-city youth and run nonprofits. They are coaches, teachers, entrepreneurs, preschool operators, community activists, and financial planners.
Seven Virginia Tech alumni will be recognized on April 13 during the Influential Black Alumni Awards ceremony at 8 p.m. in Squires Student Center’s Colonial Hall. This year’s ceremony is held on the first day of Virginia Tech’s Black Alumni Reunion, which takes place every two years.
The following Hokies will receive awards.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Portia Moore
Portia Moore believes that children can play and learn at the same time - even if it involves math and science.
Several years ago, she founded STEM Preschool in Arlington, Virginia as a way for children to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math in a fun environment, before they start kindergarten.
Moore, who is this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Influential Black Alumni Awards, is gearing up to open the preschool’s second location on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., next month.
“If we prepare these students to engage in STEM at an early age, then in kindergarten they are not automatically deterred from it,” Moore said. “They grasp it, they enjoy it.”
She also runs a babysitter referral business, P&E Babysitting, which she started in 2010.
Moore, a 2008 Virginia Tech graduate, majored in human nutrition, food, and exercise, and initially had her sights set on becoming a physical therapist. After Virginia Tech, she earned her master’s degree in education at Marymount University.
Educator of the Year: Carmen Sanders
With more than a decade as a teacher and administrator, Carmen Sanders is living out her calling.
As academic principal for about 1,400 students at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia, she helps to shape classroom instruction, mentor teachers, and analyze school data.
Before this role, she was dean of students at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria City Public Schools, and she taught English and student government/leadership skills for Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Sanders earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with a focus on language, literature, and composition at Virginia Tech in 2006. She always planned to become a teacher.
“The thing that inspires me the most, and helps me get out of bed in the morning is the opportunity to be impactful to the next generation of students and families,” said Sanders, who also has a master’s degree in educational administration from Trinity Washington University.
She enjoys the challenge of working with children of all backgrounds and ability levels, and she hopes to continue to move up in her educational administrative roles over time.
“We still have to meet them [students] exactly where they are and take them to the next level, teaching them how to be good productive citizens in society, teaching them empathy, and kindness, and respect,” Sanders said. “It’s about educating the whole child for me.”
Athlete of the Year: David Clowney
David Clowney, a former Virginia Tech football star, has a heart for underprivileged children who want to go to college, but whose families cannot afford it. In 2008, he launched the David Clowney Foundation, which raises money for scholarships to help disadvantaged youth go to college and pay for books.
“If it wasn’t for athletics, I would have never been able to afford a university,” said Clowney, who after graduating from Virginia Tech in 2006 played in the National Football League for the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, and in the Canadian Football League. He retired in 2013.
His foundation is based in Delray Beach, Florida, where Clowney grew up, and this June marks its 10th celebrity charity weekend. The weekend features celebrity kickball and basketball games and other activities that draw families and professional athletes. All proceeds from the weekend go toward the foundation’s scholarships.
The foundation gives about $20,000 a year in scholarships.
Along with his charity work, Clowney, who recently earned an MBA from the University of Miami, is the h-back and receivers coach for Howard University’s football program. He has a bachelor’s degree in real estate and property management from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in justice administration and public service from the College of Saint Elizabeth.
Outstanding Recent Alumnae: Rianka R. Dorsainvil
A personal finance 101 class at Virginia Tech that addressed insurance, credit scores, social security, and more, changed Rianka Dorsainvil’s life.
“I was like 'Whoa, this is tangible info that we can use today,’” said Dorsainvil, who as a college student became known among her friends as a financial guru. “That’s when I fell in love with the concept of personal finance.”
Now, she’s a successful certified financial planner with her own virtual business, Your Greatest Contribution. Though she works with a variety of clients, Dorsainvil focuses on professionals and entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. She often works with clients who want to become entrepreneurs or couples who are going through a life transition, such as marriage or having a baby.
“It goes back to my love of helping people,” said Dorsainvil, who previously worked at firms where clients had to have at least $1 million in assets. “We were turning away young professionals who wanted help."
Dorsainvil recently launched her own podcast, 2050 Trailblazers, which includes discussions with financial industry experts about diversity in the field and cultural awareness. She was named among the 2017 Women to Watch Rising Star by Investment News and Wealth Management’s Ten to Watch in 2018.
She graduated from Virginia Tech in 2009 with bachelor's degrees in agricultural and applied economics and financial planning.
Philanthropist of the Year: Edward Baine
Ed Baine learned the value of helping others at a young age. He was raised on a tobacco farm in Lunenburg County, Virginia, where his family modeled for him the importance of lending a hand to people in need.
“Our family has always talked about the Bible verse Luke 12:48, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’” he said. “We have always felt the need to help others in our community in any way that we could.”
These values live on today in Baine, who is senior vice president for distribution for Dominion Energy’s Power Delivery Group.
Baine is a board member for at least nine organizations, including the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund and MEGA Mentors, an organization that teaches life and leadership skills to underserved youth in Chesterfield County, where he lives.
In the past few years, Baine, who also coaches youth football, has focused his service on youth and education because he said he knows how education changes the lives of people, their families, and their communities.
Baine graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Last year, he received the Anthony R. James Legacy Award for Outstanding Community Service, which is one of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards. He also received the Metropolitan Business League Oliver Singleton Humanitarian Award.
Ut Prosim co-recipient: Erick King
While coaching basketball teams for 13-year-olds in Northern Virginia, Erick King and his brother, Isaac King, noticed a growing problem. Many of the teenagers did not have fathers who were involved in their lives.
They decided to start the Fathers in Touch program, which supports fathers in the community and teaches them about parenting. The program has reconnected more than 750 fathers with their children.
“We wanted to have a greater impact than coaching basketball,” said Erick King, a 2000 Virginia Tech graduate and director of probation for the Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. “These fathers don’t have a lot of places you can go to talk about these issues. That’s what really keeps me going. It brings a lot of value to individual families.”
In 2008, the King brothers founded Capital Youth Empowerment, a nonprofit that oversees the Fathers in Touch program and other initiatives to help teenagers in the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County make healthy sexual choices.
Erick King has bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology from Virginia Tech.
“That’s what I have dedicated my life to doing is serving others, supervising and providing oversight,” he said. “Being of service to others is how I demonstrate Ut Prosim.
Ut Prosim co-recipient: Deseria Creighton-Barney
Public service is a theme in Deseria Creighton-Barney’s life.
She is president-elect of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors, and she is the first vice president for the Henrico County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a public service organization.
“Those are the two things to which I give my time,” said Creighton-Barney, who graduated in 1986 from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Her sorority takes a voice in social action, from helping with voter registration to speaking with lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly about issues important to the community. Serving the local community and mentoring youth are some of the sorority’s initiatives.
Creighton-Barney, who lives in Chesterfield, Virginia, has been an active member of the sorority for 20 years. She also serves on the alumni advisory board for Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
She is a talent acquisition partner with Virginia Premier, a nonprofit managed health-care provider in Richmond.
By Jenny Kincaid Boone