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Springfield Museums Announce Ubora and Ahadi Award Winners

SPRINGFIELD — The African Hall subcommittee of the Springfield Science Museum announced the winners of the 27th annual Ubora Award and the ninth annual Ahadi Youth Award.

The 2018 Ubora Award recipient is Keshawn Dodds, executive director of the Springfield Boys & Girls Club. The 2018 Ahadi Youth Award recipient is Karissa Coleman of Springfield Central High School.

Dodds was born and raised in Springfield, where he resides with his wife, Tamara Dodds, and daughter, Sydney Sharee Dodds. He attended American International College with a football scholarship, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education in 2001 and returned to earn a master’s degree in education in 2009.

Dodds became a fourth- and fifth-grade elementary-school teacher at the Homer and Washington elementary schools in Springfield. He served as a mayoral aide under former Springfield Mayor Charles Ryan. Dodds worked for a decade at American International College as director of Diversity & Community Engagement. He is currently executive director of the Boys & Girls Club Family Center.

Dodds is also a published author, playwright, and actor. His first book, Menzuo: The Calling of the Sun Prince, became an Amazon bestseller.

“This is an amazing honor to receive such a prestigious award from the Springfield community,” Dodds said. “I am truly humbled, yet honored to be selected for this. The work that I do, I do out of love for my city and especially our youth. To have my work recognized and also honored warms the heart. Thank you.”

A knowledge-seeking, articulate young person, Karissa Coleman, who attends Springfield Central High School, is a cadet in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (AFJROTC), where she is a training captain. Her high grade point average qualifies her to serve as director of Academics, and she runs the tutoring program for her fellow cadets. She also helps to mentor younger AFJROTC members in the overall training program so they, too, can excel.

Coleman was nominated for the Ahadi Award by her guidance counselor, Sara Sewell, who is impressed that Coleman maintains the highest academic status while also participating in many extra-curricular activities. Coleman is a cheerleader, plays softball, is a member of the National Honor Society, and volunteers for Revitalize Springfield, Toys for Tots, and breast-cancer awareness. She also participates with her church community by singing in the choir, helping to usher, working with children, and participating yearly in the Easter play.

“I am very excited about this award and very thankful that I was chosen for such an honor,” Coleman said. “As I participated in community-service events, cheered at football games, and tutored students, I never thought I would get recognized for doing things that I love. I am very thankful to my teachers, parents, church, and friends, who have guided me on this path and helped me become the person I am today. I am also very thankful to Mrs. Sewell, my amazing counselor who nominated me for this award.”

Named for the Swahili word for ‘excellence,’ the Ubora Award is presented by the African Hall subcommittee to an African-American adult who has demonstrated a commitment to the Greater Springfield area and exhibited excellence in the fields of community service, education, science, humanities or the arts.

Named for the Swahili word for ‘promise,’ the Ahadi Youth Award is presented by the African Hall subcommittee to a young African-American who has excelled in academics and performed admirable service to the Greater Springfield community.

The African Hall subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community.

The Ubora and Ahadi Awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in September.