Tiara Hill named YCAP Leon Rankin Award recipient at year-end celebration

Hill is also the recipient of the 2017 Academic Excellence Award for the Robotics & Manufacturing Department and the Alumni Board of Managers 2017 Leadership Award.

Tiara Hill with YCAP's Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

Tiara Hill with YCAP’s Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

Earlier this month, Tiara Hill was named the recipient of the 2017 Dunwoody College of Technology Leon Rankin Award at the year-end YCAP graduation reception. Hill recently graduated with an associate’s degree in Welding & Metal Fabrication.

The Leon Rankin Award is given to a Dunwoody Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP) student who shows academic excellence by maintaining a GPA of 2.5 or higher, has a 100% attendance record at all YCAP events, and acts as a mentor to their fellow students both in YCAP and in the classroom.

The award is named in honor of Leon Adam Rankin, Jr. After moving to Minnesota in 1958, Rankin attended Dunwoody College, earning an Electrician Journeyman License. He became a Master Electrician and contractor in 1968. He was a respected citizen, civil rights activist, businessman, teacher, family and marriage counselor, and one of two African-American Master Electricians in Minnesota. Rankin and former Dunwoody President Warren Phillips co-created YCAP in 1988 to provide enhanced career opportunities for under-represented youth by empowering them to graduate from high school and obtain a degree from Dunwoody.

A graduate of Park Center Senior High School, Hill wasn’t sure if she would be able to attend college. She had applied for a number of scholarships, but none of them had worked out. So when a case manager at a local non-profit suggested Hill apply for the YCAP scholarship at Dunwoody, she was skeptical.

“Before Dunwoody, college was nothing but a dream for me,” Hill said. “I really think this was the best decision I ever made.”

As a first-generation college student, Hill has made great strides in her education, now serving as a mentor to other YCAP members. Hill was also a student worker in the Welding Shop and testified before the Minnesota Legislature on behalf of YCAP to provide background on a bill that would give grants to pilot programs in Ramsey County focused on serving girls of color.

Hill is also the recipient of the 2017 Academic Excellence Award for the Robotics & Manufacturing Department and the Alumni Board of Managers 2017 Leadership Award.

Former YCAP student and program manager speaks at celebration

In addition to awarding the Leon Rankin Award, the year-end YCAP celebration is a time for students to reflect on their success and gear up for their future. So it was fitting that the guest speaker for the event was YCAP alum and former YCAP Program Manager Benito Matias.

From left to right: Vice President of Enrollment Management Cindy Olson, Principal of Ascension Catholic School Benito Matias, and Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

From left to right: Vice President of Enrollment Management Cindy Olson, Principal of Ascension Catholic School Benito Matias, and YCAP’s Associate Director of Special Initiatives Peggy Quam

Matias graduated from Patrick Henry High School and came to Dunwoody on a YCAP scholarship. After graduating from Dunwoody, Matias went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from Bemidji State University.

Although his studies are in technology, Matias has spent the last 25 years in the field of education.

Matias’s educational work has included being a Dunwoody Instructor, a Minneapolis Public School District teacher, the YCAP program manager, and the Executive Director of MetroTech Career Academy. He currently serves as the Principal of Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis.

Learn more about Dunwoody’s YCAP program at dunwoody.edu.