- Encouraging success in teen moms
- Age: 21
- School: Spelman College
- Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
- Gender: Female
- Category: Social Activism and Community Service
As the daughter of young parents, Thekia believes that young motherhood shouldn't spell the end of education and success. So she created the program "B.E.S.T. Moms: Building and Encouraging Success in Teen Moms," which won her a $10,000 Dalai Lama Fellowship. Through her project, which helps teenage mothers and their children gain access to educational resources, she held a series of 11 personal and academic workshops and skill-building training sessions, all designed to help young mothers get the skills they need to go to college or enter the job market, give them a support system of women mentors and focus on enrichment and literacy for their children. "When you become pregnant, or you become a mother or father of a child at a young age, people think that your life is supposed to stop -- you're not supposed to get an education, you're not supposed to go to trade school, you're not supposed to become the best person you can be," Thekia said. "I just think that's truly incorrect."