SPRINGFIELD — The African Hall Committee of the Springfield Museums announced its annual Ubora Award and Ahadi Youth Award winners. Now in its 30th year of celebrating leadership by people of African heritage, the 2021 Ubora Award honors Robert Cee Jackson as an exemplary philanthropist and humanitarian. The 12th Ahadi Youth Award honors the remarkable energy and intent of Tigist Dawit Terefe, a junior at the High School of Science & Technology.
Robert Cee Jackson
As president of Jackson Security and Jackson Transportation, Jackson employs many community members and negotiates fees to help make his services affordable to all. As vice president of the African-American philanthropic organization the Brethren Community Foundation, he helps neighborhood youth with projects such as staging a celebration of Juneteenth that showcased remarkable community talent and providing college scholarships for youth.
Jackson’s community-minded leadership also includes the Urban League board of directors and the Springfield Partners for Community Action board of directors. In addition, he is an active member and distinguished leader of the Masonic Order.
For decades, Jackson has helped at the Stone Soul Festival, which is recognized as one of New England’s largest African-American festivals. He was a co-founder of the 5A football program, which is now called Springfield Youth Athletics. Its mission is to provide activities and opportunities for young people, regardless of race, religion, or economic status, in the urban Springfield community and surrounding area.
He volunteers with the Old Hill Neighborhood Council, which is dedicated to serving the needs and concerns of community members. And he was appointed in 2008 by Mayor Domenic Sarno to serve as a commissioner of the Community Police Hearing Board.
“This is such an unexpected surprise,” Jackson said. “I am honored to be the recipient of the 30th Ubora Award. The volunteer service that I do is because of my commitment to and love for my community. This is a prestigious award, and I am humbled and grateful to the African Hall Committee, Springfield Museums, and all involved in this honor.”
Tigist Dawit Terefe
Terefe maintains top grades while also pursuing difficult coursework, including advanced-placement classes. She has taken advantage of dual-enrollment opportunities with Springfield Technical Community College to earn college credits as well as the After Dark Vocational Program with Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, which allows her to graduate with both her high-school diploma and as a certified nurse assistant.
Terefe also works part-time at Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute, as an intern in the cancer-research lab, and looks forward to going into cancer biomedical research in the future. She participates in the Baystate Educational Partnership to expand her insight into the medical world. She is also one of the founders of the first-ever Springfield Leadership Advisory Council, which will work to connect students of Springfield public schools with district leaders.
Terefe is a member of District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s Youth Advisory Board, which addresses issues facing today’s teens, researches effective prevention strategies, and works to give youth and residents in the City of Springfield a more powerful voice to make positive change. She is a tutor to other Youth Advisory Board members and leads the inclusion committee, which has created a series of podcasts to give insight on how people could be more inclusive, and what they have experienced as students in Hampden County.
“I am overjoyed to have received the Ahadi Award,” Terefe said. “I have always found people with an interest in their community impressive, and have worked in my academic ventures to do the same. I love working on topics of equity and inclusivity in the Springfield community and generally. I thank the committee for selecting me, and I thank my guidance counselor, Ms. [Amy] Quinlan, for nominating me. I hope I represent the award well throughout and after my high-school career.”
The Ubora Award and the Ahadi Youth Award are awarded to African-Americans from Greater Springfield who have demonstrated commitment, above and beyond, to the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts.