The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) Education and Scholarship Task Force (ESTF) is pleased to spotlight three-time SWNA-ESTF scholarship award recipient Gary T. Hill.
Gary is the youngest of four children born to Gary and Lureva Hill, and has been a Southwest resident his entire 21 years of life at The Commons of Town Square. His father is a native Washingtonian and his mother relocated to DC from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, more than 30 years ago. He attended Amidon Elementary, Dupont Park Seventh Day Adventist School for grades 7 through 10 and completed 11th and 12th grade at Archbishop Carroll, from which he graduated in the Class of 2013.
This industrious young man began serving his community at a very early age when he, along with his family, began delivering The Southwester newspaper to residents in 2000. By the time Gary reached 9th grade, he was delivering The Southwester to a part of the neighborhood that had not been receiving it, by himself.
After graduating high school, Gary decided to attend the nation’s first historically black college and university, now known as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. The fact that the school is small, all of the professors know their students, it feels like family, is away from home, but, not too far away, all played a role in attracting Gary to Cheyney. He also has taken summer courses at the University of DC.
Gary will be graduating from Cheyney in May with a major in liberal studies. One of his goals includes being a full-time teacher. Whether he becomes a classroom teacher or not, he plans to work with youth, inspiring and encouraging them as his Bible teacher, Mr. Charles Johnson, inspired and encouraged him. Gary just wants to “pay it forward.” He admires Mr. Johnson for being able to relate to his students and credits him with being his role model.
Of course, Gary’s father is his greatest influence because he has pushed and encouraged him throughout his life. When asked who he believes are the most inspirational figures in African-American history, Gary responded with Martin Luther King, Jr., because he entered Morehouse College at 15, was a Christian, and fought for Equal Rights. Gary said he also regards Malcolm X as an important historical figure because of his dedication to the belief that equality and justice should be achieved “by any means necessary.”
Gary’s favorite book is When Things Fall Apart by Professor Chinua Achebe. Originally published in 1958, Gary says this book has stood the test of time and is still relevant today because of its great life lessons. He has also enjoyed reading the biographies of Thurgood Marshall and Booker T. Washington, and says Washington’s biography is the best he has ever read. Gary likes all kinds of music and his favorite movies are action movies such as The Expendables, the original Great Gatsby, and the Fast and Furious franchise. His hobbies include watching sports, playing basketball, going out, walking, and finding new adventures. He has also found time to work at Nationals Park, where he enjoys the baseball games.
Gary remains active in his community and helps others by mowing the grass and shoveling snow. He also likes to travel and has been to such destinations as the Bahamas, St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and Texas. He would like to travel to Africa (to do missionary service, like his aunt), Puerto Rico, Peru, and California in the near future.
According to Gary, the greatest advice he has received was from his father, who taught him: “When you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it, correct your course and move on.” He says he believes the most helpful advice he could give to youth coming behind him is: “Develop time management skills so you can use your time wisely and make every moment special.”
Gary sincerely appreciates the opportunities and support he received from SWNA. In 2013 he received a computer from the Technology Task Force to take to college. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 he received scholarships from the ESTF that assisted with his college tuition. After graduation in May, Gary will return to DC where he will work with youth in Ward 8, giving back to the city he loves.
By: Bonita White