Rocking the Red Carpet – The Amazing ExCEL Honors 2019
That’s the first thing I think of when I think of the incredible ExCEL Honors Event on June 21, 2019. Those are the first words that come to my mind when I think about the amazing turnout, the huge crowd and all the amazing kidpreneurs and youth change makers that are achieving amazing things and ExCELling Beyond Expectations.
Now, let’s talk about the people behind the curtain, so to speak, that are making this amazing event happen.
The ExCEL Honors 2019 is sponsored and hosted by the ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute™, which is a non-profit organization providing mentorship opportunities and educational resources to youth. The name itself, ExCEL, stands for Excellence through Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Leadership.
The ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute™ was founded by teenpreneur Gabrielle Jordan (who has her own jewelry business, too) and her mom Marcella Mollon-Williams.
“I never intended to raise a young entrepreneur,” says “momager” Marcella Mollon-Williams. “My goal was to raise leaders that would leave a positive impact on society. Entrepreneurship came naturally once leadership was established.”
My parents and I had already been in touch via Facebook with these two amazing firecrackers for a little while, but one day they reached out to us about me being the Red Carpet Hostess for the event. I was so ecstatic! From the very moment Marcella and Gabrielle sent that email, I knew it was such an amazing opportunity – but I didn’t know how the event would turn out.
Are you ready for it?
Incredible. The turnout was incredible! There were so many attendees, so many amazing awardees and finalists, and the whole event was so much fun. During the awards dinner, the food was delicious, and the presentations smoothly transitioned from one to the other. It was an awesome night, and definitely one to remember!
Let’s talk about the incredible awardees. The youth honorees are Haile Thomas (winning the Female Trailblazer Award), who is an inspirational speaker, podcaster, health activist and CEO/Founder of The HAPPY (Healthy, Active, Purposeful Youth) Organization; Moziah Bridges (winning the Male Trailblazer Award), a bowtie maker and CEO of Mo’s Bows; Jahkil Jackson (winning the Youth Change Maker Award), a helper of those in need and CEO/Founder of Project I Am; Alana Andrews (winning the Youth Leadership Award), an author, speaker and the CEO/Founder of So Positive, LLC; Miguel Coppedge (winning the Youth Author Award), a filmmaker, speaker, philanthropist, app developer and bestselling author of three books; Gabby Goodwin (winning the Youth Entrepreneur Award), a hair bow inventor and CEO/Founder of GaBBY Bows; and the Daughters of Destiny, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and girls.
The youth finalists are Darius Brown and Saniyya Hunt (the Youth Change Maker Finalists), Trident Nottingham and Naomi G. Jones (the Youth Leadership Finalists), Jakayla M. Green and Madison McIntyre (the Youth Author Finalists), Collin, Ryan and Austin Gill and Alejandra Stack (the Youth Entrepreneur Finalists).
Here are a few highlights of the different interviews with all the awardees and finalists!
My first question for all of the attendees was, “What award are you receiving, and can you tell me a bit about the work that you’re being honored for?”
Haile Thomas is an inspirational speaker, podcaster, health activist and CEO/Founder of The HAPPY Organization. Here’s the interview:
Haile: I’m receiving the Trailblazer Award, which is such an honor for me, because it’s definitely kind of like this overall acceptance of this almost ten-year journey that I’ve been on, advocating for health and wellness, and just learning how to grow up in this atmosphere at an early age; and so, it’s kind of like honoring all of that and honoring all of us, I feel, who are stepping boldly in the direction of our dreams and goals.
Arianna: That is so epic. That is incredible. So, do you have any goals that you would like to share?
Haile: Yeah, well, my biggest goal is submitting my book manuscript on August 1st; I’m working on a book right now with Harper Collins and it’s coming out next year so that’s kind of my goal for life right now.
Arianna: Wow, that is epic! So, what would you say to a young person who doesn’t want to wait until they’re older to start ExCELling beyond expectations – what would you say to them?
Haile: I would definitely say that, of course, you don’t have to wait, but also as long as you’re making yourself proud and fulfilled and happy and you’re fully enjoying what you’re doing, anything is possible and any opinions anyone has, even if they’re good, doesn’t matter ultimately if you’re fulfilled and excited about what you’re doing and proud of yourself – then amazing things can happen for sure.
Jahkil Jackson is a helper of those in need and CEO/Founder of Project I Am. Here’s his interview:
Jahkil: So, from ExCEL Honors, I am receiving the Youth Change Maker Award, and what I’m doing: I have my own organization called Project I Am where I build awareness to homelessness, providing Blessing Bags that are full of toiletry items like soap, tissue, socks, things that can help the homeless on a daily basis. And I’ve been doing this organization for three years now.
Arianna: Wow, that is awesome. So, are you excited to be here? Is there anything you’d like to say to the person who nominated you for the award?
Jahkil: I just want to say thank you so much; it’s always a great opportunity to travel and experience new things in the world, and it’s also a big honor to even be accepted for what you’re doing and be honored, having the recognition, is really what you need.
Arianna: That’s awesome! So do you have any goals that you would like to share?
Jahkil: So this year I want to provide to the homeless about 15,000 Blessing Bags, but I also want to build a tiny house movement that are tiny homes for those in need, and they can travel and stuff – but the problem with that is that some people don’t want them in their neighborhoods, but a solution to that can be putting them in neighborhoods where there’s not houses, just open grasslands, because there’s a lot of that in Chicago. So, yeah, those are some of my goals this year.
Alana Andrews is an author, speaker and the CEO/Founder of So Positive, LLC. Here’s her interview:
Alana: So I’m receiving the Youth Leadership Award, so right now I’m the CEO and founder of So Positive, and we’re all about building self-confidence and positivity within Generation Z.
Arianna: Wow, that is incredible!
Alana: Thank you!
Arianna: You’re welcome! So are you excited to be here?
Alana: Yeah. Yeah, I am so excited, the energy here is amazing, the people here are so incredible; they’re inspiring, so it’s an amazing event to be here.
Arianna: That’s awesome. Is there anything you want to say to the person who nominated you for the award?
Alana: Thank you so much! I truly do appreciate it, and I really do try to improve my company and continue to do what I’m doing now, so thank you.
Miguel Coppedge is a a filmmaker, speaker, philanthropist, app developer and bestselling author of three books. Here’s his interview:
Miguel: My award that I’m receiving is the Youth Author Award, and I feel great.
Arianna: Awesome! So, are you excited to be here? Is there anything you want to say to the person who nominated you for the award?
Miguel: I’m very excited to be here. I would like to thank everybody.
Arianna: That’s awesome. Yeah, absolutely – so, how old were you when you started your work?
Miguel: About eight.
Arianna: Oh, wow! That is incredible! Wow. So, how important is mentorship in your success?
Miguel: It’s very important, because I feel like the people that mentor me really help me get to this point, so yeah.
Gabby Goodwin is a hairbow inventor and CEO/Founder of GaBBY Bows. Here’s her interview:
Gabby: So, the award that I’m receiving is the Youth Entrepreneurship Award. I am a young entrepreneur of five years and I created the barrette that doesn’t fall out of the hair, and I also have a book and box and a lot of other products as well.
Arianna: That’s so awesome! So, are you excited to be here? Is there anything you’d like to say to the person who nominated you for the award?
Gabby: I’m super excited to be here, I have a lot of friends who are in entrepreneurship or have a non-profit that are here, and I get to meet some other new people as well, and I just want to say thank you so much; this is a very, very special award for me, because – ExCEL Honors! And I was in the program starting as a business owner so it’s really, really important for me to be able to win this award and it’s very honoring as well.
Nyanna Harris is a former schoolteacher, founder of Business Owners of Tomorrow, and is the “momager” of Destiny Harris, who is a baker, and Dynasty, who sells knickknacks and trinkets. Here’s her interview:
Nyanna: I am getting the Parent Manager Award.
Arianna: Oh, wow, that’s awesome! So what award are you receiving, and can you tell me a little bit about the work you’re being honored for?
Nyanna: Okay, so, I have been nominated to receive the Parent Manager Award, so my daughters own businesses – I have Destiny who is eleven; she is a baker. And Dynasty, who is five, and and she sells things – bracelets, jewelry, keychains and things of that nature. So I’ve been nominated and I’m excited and I’m happy.
Arianna: That is so awesome. So, do you have any goals that you would like to share?
Nyanna: Well, we started an organization called Business Owners of Tomorrow, and what we do is we help other children to start their own businesses; so we’re just happy that we’re able to bring entrepreneurship to the community – anybody who would like to be a part of it.
Darius Brown is a bow tie maker and entrepreneur. Here’s his interview:
Darius: I’m not receiving an award, but I am a finalist though.
Arianna: Oh, okay, awesome. Finalist. Alright. So, are you excited to be here? Is there anything you want to say to the person who nominated you or anything?
Darius: Yeah, I just want to say thank you to the ExCEL Honors Awards for just letting me come here today and just receiving this award; I’m very grateful.
Arianna: That’s so awesome. So, do you have any goals that you would like to share?
Darius: Some goals that I have is to hopefully have my own store and to hope that my business just becomes a blooming business.
Arianna: That’s so awesome – and how old were you when you started your work?
Darius: I’m twelve years old.
Saniyya Hunt is an entrepreneur, nail polish maker and CEO/Founder of Sassy G. Here’s her interview:
Saniyya: So, I am one of the top three finalists to receive an award called the Youth Change Maker Award, and I’m being awarded for my Sassy Squad, and what my Sassy Squad does is we go to nursing homes and adult daycare centers and we provide free manicures to the elderly and mentally delayed.
Arianna: Oh, wow, that is incredible – that is so awesome. So are you excited to be here? I mean, is there anything you’d like to say to the person who nominated you for the award?
Saniyya: I’m really excited and I want to say thank you to the person who nominated me for the award and I really hope that I win and I’m really excited to be here.
Arianna: That’s so awesome. So how old were you when you started your work?
Saniyya: I was nine and a half. So I started my business on my birthday, so I was like nine and ten at the same time basically.
Naomi G. Jones
Naomi G. Jones is an entrepreneur, dancer, actor, singer, speaker, ambassador and the CEO/Founder of The MIMI Group. Here’s her interview:
Naomi: So, I am a finalist, and I’m also an entrepreneur, and I have my own business and run my own summer theater camp. It’s actually going to be starting this month; it’s starting at the end of this month, actually, and it’s for three weeks, and they learn acting, dancing, singing. And I also teach audition technique classes, and the name of my business is called The MIMI Group, and that’s also my nickname, and MIMI stands for Making an Impact, Moving to Inspire, as making an impact in your community and moving to inspire all around the world.
Arianna: Wow, that is amazing – extremely inspirational!
Naomi: Thank you.
Arianna: You’re welcome! So how old were you when you started your work?
Naomi: So when I first started, when I first had the idea, I was about eight years old, and then my first meeting for my business, I was nine years old – just turned nine – and my meeting was with my mayor and people that I knew that I could trust and I knew they had my back no matter what.
Madison McIntyre is a dancer, soccer player and author. Here’s her interview:
Madison: I’m receiving the Young Author Finalist Award and my name is Madison; I’m the published author of two books. The first one is called Madison’s World: A Lesson in Friendship and the second one is called Madison’s World: Bad Hair Day – Daddy to the Rescue, and they’re both talking about bullying.
Arianna: Oh, wow, that is so awesome – so how old were you when you started your work?
Madison: I wrote my first book when I was eight and now I’m ten.
Arianna: Wow, that is incredible. Do you have any goals that you would like to share?
Madison: I would like to sell over 1,000 books by the end of next year.
Jakayla Green is an author, philanthropist, speaker, track star and host. Here’s her interview:
Jakayla: So, I’m a finalist for [authoring], and I wrote a book – my name is Jakayla; the book is about a time my life when my parents separated, when my dad got a house and me and him just had daddy daughter date outings to just keep our close relationship. And I’m also the South Carolina entrepreneur of the year, and I’m also the creator of the International Daddy Daughter Date Outings where every year, one day per year, each My Daddy’s Girl ambassadors do stuff around the world with their dad, like go painting or do something fun with their dad.
Arianna: That is so awesome; that is so incredible! So are you excited to be here? Is there anything you’d like to say to the person who nominated you for the award?
Jakayla: I would like to say thank you, and I’m very happy and excited to get my award and yeah.
Collin, Ryan and Austin Gill
Collin, Ryan and Austin Gill are brothers, entrepreneurs and candle makers. Here’s their interview:
Austin: I’m with the candles.
Arianna: Awesome! That’s awesome. So do you have any goals that you would like to share?
Ryan: We’re looking to get a candle truck in a production space so we can get out of the house more.
Arianna: That’s wonderful. That’s epic! And what would you say to a young person that doesn’t want to wait until they’re older to start ExCELling beyond expectations – what would you say to them?
Collin: I would stay start now. The later you start, it kind of gets harder when you’re an adult, because it’s kind of normal for an adult to start a business, but if you’re a kid, it’s easier because they’re more attracted to kids than adults.
So, there you have it! This was the amazing ExCEL Honors Awards Gala. I’m Arianna Fox, and I am so honored for the fantastic opportunity to be the Red Carpet Hostess.
I also want to give an extra shout-out to the parent managers, the celebrity DJ Beauty & the Beatz, and Jessob Reisbeck, a news anchor with Good Morning Washington and the Master of Ceremony for the awards dinner.
Here’s the playlist of all the interviews for your viewing pleasure!
Thank you for reading and don’t forget – You Rock, Dream Big and You Got This!
– Arianna Fox, 12-Year-Old Girlpreneur, Author and Inspirational Speaker
@afoxauthor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (Arianna Fox on LinkedIn and YouTube)
Arianna Fox is a 12-year-old girlpreneur, author and inspirational speaker. She has been on WBOC DelmarvaLife TV, has spoken at the Microsoft-sponsored DigiGirlz event, and is a national award winner.
She may come in a small package, but her ideas are as revolutionary as they are wide-reaching. For several years now, Arianna has devoted her life and much of her time to reaching out to others to spread messages of hope, inspiration, and self-confidence. Making a positive impact upon others and helping them rock their lives to maximum potential is part of this upcoming girlpreneur’s goal for her interactions with kids, her fellow tweens, teens, adults, and all.
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