SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- The San Diego chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated is celebrating 65 years of their Leadership AKAdemy. The program mentors a group of teenage girls every year. The AKAdemy ends with a memorable ball.
The AKA San Diego chapter has one mission: encourage scholastic achievement, strong ethical standards, and "be a service to all mankind." For over six decades, those values have been used to mentor girls around the county.
During the 1950s, the chapter held its first debutante ball to expose young girls to cultural opportunities. It was historically the debut of young ladies ages 16 to 19 as official members of society.
"Now it has grown into a leadership academy to where we equip the young people with life skills," says Chapter President, Deborah Davis-Gillespie.
The teens attend different workshops, like college readiness and etiquette, each week for the months' long program. This year's Leadership AKAdemy has a total of 16 girls.
"I'm just really happy to be a part of the whole process and the whole experience," says participant Kennedy Harris.
Community service is also at the top of the list for the program. The girls participate in community events like the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and the MLK Day of Service in Balboa Park. The goal is to help others and for the girls to have an appreciation for the communities in which they live.
"It's really nice to be able to make those connections early on in my life," says participant Sanai Mitchell.
After months of workshops, events, and dance practice with their escorts for the ball, the girls are now just a few weeks away from their big night. They will be presented to their families and community as young women, ready to take on the world.
"It's an evolution, its life-changing and they walk away a better person than when they came in," says Davis- Gillespie.
This year's AKA Leadership AKAdemy will be held on Saturday, March 21st at the Legacy Hotel and Resort in Mission Valley.