There was magic in the air inspiring an afternoon of Black excellence as the Gamma Zeta Boulé Foundation (GZBF) hosted its 18th annual L.A.M.P Mentor Program Scholarship Celebration: Igniting the Torch of Empowerment at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel on May 20, 2023, in Pasadena, CA. The luncheon honors graduating seniors and rewarding them with scholarship support for college. The L.A.M.P. Mentor Program is open to African American men, grades 9-12, who desire to attend and graduate from the college or university of their choice.

The luncheon was the culmination of a ten-month Program that included thirty-six students (10 Seniors, 11 Juniors, 8 Sophomores, and 7 Freshmen) who met at least one Saturday a month (from August to May) for a series of workshops. L.A.M.P. Mentees are introduced to successful African American men from a variety of professions, enjoy cultural events, participate in business skills workshops, and engage with challenges they will encounter in their quest for excellence and success, by institutions and individuals that expand their knowledge and open their minds to a world of career opportunities. The program also included a weekend bonding retreat in the mountains of Southern California to engender the four pillars of L.A.M.P. – Leadership, Achievement, Management, and Professionalism – and reinforce personal action pillars – Learn Ask, Meet and Promise.

This unique experience provided students and parents with an opportunity to learn more about the college admissions process, financial aid, as well as writing, networking, financial literacy, and interviewing skills. The rising seniors embarked on an educational trip to Washington DC that includes visits to colleges, museums, and cultural centers, along with opportunities to dine with successful African American men in the Washington DC area. The L.A.M.P. Mentor Program is free to students and parents.

William Keys, IV, President of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship served as the keynote speaker. Ten outstanding young men made up the Gamma Zeta Boulé Class of 2023: Marshall Dodds, Sebastian Fuentes, Hayden Harper, Xavier Haynes, Terence Mathews II, Asa Phillips, Gilbert Roberts, Xavier Smith, Andrew Taylor, and Sean Taylor. Each was awarded a scholarship in varying amounts from $8,000 to $12,000. One of the seniors, Sean Taylor, was admitted to the coveted Boulé Scholars Program. This year there are 50 Boulé Scholars out of over 1,000 applicants.

In all, the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation awarded $101,000 in college scholarships. Among the graduates, seven have a GPA of at least 3.5; four are outstanding student athletes, having served as captains of their schools’ teams sports, competed in, and won conference championships, been ranked in the top ten in Los Angeles in their chosen sport, and entering college as recruited Division 1 student athlete, one is entering college as a sophomore, and three are outstanding musicians. Some plan to major in psychology, finance, and pre-law at institutes of higher education throughout the country, including HBCU Morehouse College, UCLA, U.C. Berkeley, Boston University, Southern Methodist University, Pasadena City College, Pierce College, U.C. Santa Cruz, University of Arizona, and California State University of Northridge.

Presenting the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program – 2023 Graduates

Marshall Dodds
San Marino High School

Marshall is a senior at San Marino High School where he participated in Speech and Debate extemporaneous contests and placed 2nd in the Novice category. He has been an active member of the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program of the Gamma Zeta Boulé Foundation, since ninth grade and is the co-founder of the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program Suit Bank, that provides gently used business attire to mentees.

He was a top performer during the L.A.M.P. GRID Fundraiser, prepared food for and served guests at Union Station Mission and LA Works, and delivered food to needy families with the American Renascent Center. He also arranged for his fellow Jack & Jill teens to assemble care packages for Help with Hope; a charity that supports children of Cancer Sufferers.

Marshall worked at Resolve LA, a non-profit clothing brand that raises funds to combat homelessness, drug addiction, and pollution, where he helped design the 2023 collection.

He is developing an application to assist students in time management and task completion. Marshall founded Around the House Chores, to help busy families and individuals tackle chores and mundane tasks.

Marshall will attend Morehouse College to pursue a degree in computer information systems and cyber security. His personal life philosophy is “Get better every day.”

Sebastian Fuentes
William Howard Taft Charter High School

Sebastian is graduating from William Howard Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills. He has been an honor roll student all four years, and is an Advanced Placement scholar. He was captain of his high school soccer team, and also played varsity football at Taft. Sebastian also participated in the Mediterranean International Cup Tournament in Barcelona, Spain with his club team. Sebastian’s other activities include participating in the Health Occupations Students of America, the Parents, Educators and Students in Action, the Los Angeles Football Club SoCal Youth Program, Red Cross Foundation, and the Guyana Medical Relief Program.

Sebastian was the alumni officer in the Black Student Union. He was also the treasurer for the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, as well as the Magnet Mentor event planning committee chairman. He served as a sports medicine trainer during games. He also tutored and refereed games through his soccer club organization.

Sebastian will attend California State Northridge, where he will be on scholarship as an NCAA Division 1 soccer player while studying psychology. His personal life philosophy is, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

Hayden Harper
Bishop Alemany High School

Hayden is graduating from Bishop Alemany High School having received academic honors and a student-athlete award. Hayden was a basketball player and a member of the track and field team. He also was the president of the French Club where he conducted meetings in and taught French. He was a cabinet member in the Associated Student Body, a member of the Book Club that read at least one book a month, and participated in the Alemany Activist, discussing the political climate of the school and general news.

Hayden’s volunteer activities included the Children’s Hunger Fund and he worked as a production assistant for FXNOW and as a model. He is an aspiring businessman and a charismatic student.

Hayden will attend Boston University where he will study finance. His personal life philosophy is, “Life is not about what happens to you, it’s how you respond.”

Xavier Haynes
Granada Hills Charter High School

Xavier is graduating from Granada Hills Charter High School where he was a member of the Black Student Union and the California Student Academy.
He participated in Jack & Jill of America as a teen delegate in the Western Region and as a TIP Intern for the LA Promise Fund in the digital media and arts sector.

Xavier was a volunteer at the Union Station Shelter.

Xavier will attend Pasadena City College as the first step towards a career as a civil engineer. His personal life philosophy is, “Do whatever is necessary to achieve your own happiness as long as it does not involve immoral means.”

Terence Mathews II
Harvard Westlake

Terence is a senior at Harvard Westlake. He was a three-year member of the Debate Team and took numerous Advanced Placement classes. He was the Co-Chair of the Harvard Westlake Black Leadership and Culture Club and a varsity football player.

He volunteered as a McClain Sports & Wellness Employee engaging in administrative work, patient care and software management. He also served as a volunteer for the Alexandria House in Los Angeles, and as a handler and distributer for Meals on Wheels. Terence is the co-founder, investor and sous chef of Jay’s Cookies. He is also the co-founder of Summer’s Sneakers, a not-for-profit organization that collects and distributes shoes for underprivileged youth in Los Angeles.

Terence is a registered SAG-AFTRA Professional Actor. He is an accomplished singer. He sings in the Chamber Singers Choir at Harvard Westlake and is the Tenor Section Leader for the Chamber. In 2019, he was awarded the TAMKIN Award for community service.

Terence’s personal philosophy is “fall down 9 times, get up 10.” Terence will be attending Southern Methodist University where he will be studying pre-law, engineering, film and media.

Asa Phillips
Loyola High School

Asa is graduating from Loyola High School. While at Loyola, Asa co-created the Chemistry Club, was a leader on the track team, specializing in the 4×400 relay team, received a scholarship to conduct research at California Institute of Technology on asteroids and their variation, and received an Advanced Placement Merit Scholarship Award.

Asa is an accomplished creative individual. He is a musician, participating in the band at Loyola, and made a short film that was screened at the Harvard Westlake Westflix Film Festival. He also engaged in the El Kabulon Art Night as a volunteer, setting up painting stations for children. His volunteer activities also included participating in the Jack & Jill community service projects and the Tarote organization creating, packing and delivering meals for the homeless.

Asa will attend UC Santa Cruz where he will study astronomy and physics. His personal life philosophy is “There is no meaning in life. So, make your own.”

Gilbert Roberts
John Muir High School

Gilbert is graduating from John Muir High School. While at Muir, Gilbert excelled in Water Polo. He was Captain of the team in his senior year and led the team to the CIF Championship. He was the MVP of the team in 2022 and second Team All-Conference in Water Polo in 2023. He works as a lifeguard for the City of Pasadena. In that position, he facilitates swimming lessons and supervises the swimming activities at the pools. He is also studying to obtain his real estate sales license.

Gilbert was a recognized student leader at John Muir. He was a regular participant in the Mentoring and Partnership for Youth Development (MPYD) Program at the high school.

Gilbert will be attending Pasadena City College as the initial phase of his quest to have a career in Radiology. His life philosophy is, “Be the best you can be.”

Xavier Smith
St. Francis High School

Xavier is a senior at St. Francis High School where he thrives as a student and has been on the honor roll since his sophomore year. He is bilingual and biliterate in Spanish, understanding the value of languages and cultural connections. He is the academic awardee of a 2023 Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Scholarship and Pasadena Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Xavier played club and scholastic soccer. He volunteers at Midnight Mission and has been a participant in Jack & Jill of America since 2018, having held the position of Teen Fundraising Coordinator. He is the co-founder of the L.A.M.P. Mentor Program Suit Bank which provides gently used clothes to mentees. Xavier expressed. “The Suit Bank helps continue the development of brotherhood and community among the Mentees by making sure everyone has business clothes.” He has balanced academics and extracurricular activities while working a part-time job.

Xavier will attend the University of Arizona where he will study behavioral economics, exploring his passion for how human behaviors work and connect within the economy. His personal life philosophy is, “Everything in life is temporary, even life itself, but the one thing that sticks with you throughout its entirety is you, so find yourself before you look for anything else.”

Andrew Taylor
Granada Hills Charter High School

Andrew is a senior at Granada Hills Charter High School and has had an exceptional high school career. He is a member of the National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation, co-valedictorian of his graduating class, and will be a graduate of the Advanced Placement Capstone program. He is a recipient of the College Board African American Recognition Award, an AP Scholar with Distinction Award, and an Academic Excellence Recognition by the Council of African American Parents.

In addition, Andrew serves as editor-in-chief of his high school yearbook. He is a varsity track and field athlete, social media manager for the Space Club, and his team was a finalist in the California NanoSystems Institute’s Nanovation Competition at UCLA.

Andrew’s volunteering included handcrafting blankets for the My Stuff Bags Foundation, tutoring second grade students in the Study Buddy Program, and volunteering with the Reclaim Our Vote Organization to write and mail postcards urging historically disenfranchised people of color to vote.

Andrew will attend the University of California, Berkley, where he will major in society and the environment with a pre-law emphasis. His personal life philosophy is, “Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”

Sean Taylor
Granada Hills Charter High School

Sean is a graduate of Granada Hills Charter High School. He is co-valedictorian of his class and is graduating with a 4.4 GPA and an Advanced Placement Capstone diploma. He has received a National College Resources Foundation scholarship, an AP Scholar with Distinction Award, and the College Board African American Recognition Award. He has completed a University of Michigan Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary System course and excelled in ten different AP classes.

Sean is captain of the Granada Hills Track & Field Team and has run Cross Country for the past two years, placing sixth in Los Angeles at the Cross-Country finals, earning team MVP honors, and qualifying for the state championships. Currently, he ranks fourth in the city for both the mile and the two-mile. He was also selected for the CIF Los Angeles Boys All-Academic Team.

Sean has been very active as a volunteer, making blankets for at-risk children through the My Stuff Bags Foundation, cleaning parks and beaches with the Pacific Beach Coalition, tutoring and mentoring middle school kids during the pandemic with the Study Buddy Program, raising funds and promoting voter registration through the Reclaim Your Vote organization, and participating in numerous other volunteer opportunities like food and clothing recycling drives, running miles for charity, and helping to end world hunger by participating in the United Nation’s Free Rice game.

Sean will attend UCLA where he will be studying occupational therapy with a plan to pursue a career in healthcare. His personal philosophy is “Stay Curious.”