Continuing a Legacy: Meet the Build Albion Fellows Class of 2023

June 6, 2019

The Build Albion Fellows Class of 2023 includes (first row, from left) Eryn Lewis, Madisyn O’Dell, Sondra Sewell, (middle row, from left) Cassidy Porter, Jayonna Yahsha, Victory Stovall, (top row, from left) Terek Straham, Ian Lee and Larenz Hill. (Not pictured: Kei’Asianique Hill).

Build Albion Fellows, now in its fifth year, is developing something of a legacy.

The Class of 2023, which features 10 incoming first-year students, also includes five students who have older brothers or sisters who are also participating in the program.

“I didn’t expect that when we first began the program, but I’m very pleased,” said Keena Williams, ’09, associate dean and president’s special advisor for global diversity. “What’s most amazing is we have strong families who are committed to the program and the community. They want to see their children succeed and they want to see the community succeed.”

The current cohort of Build Albion Fellows consists of 38 students (the Class of 2020 has seven members; the Class of 2021 has eight; the Class of 2022 has 13). The program continues to be one of the College’s signature programs since its introduction in the fall of 2014 as a way to help local students interested in pursuing a liberal arts education get that opportunity at Albion College. The program graduated its first class of four Fellows in May.

Eligible students need to live in the Albion area or former Albion Public Schools district and, after being admitted to Albion College, demonstrate high financial need based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a commitment to service in the local community. Those admitted will receive four-year tuition, housing and meals; in return, the Fellows will engage in service projects that help the community.

“I’m really excited about this group,” Williams said. “There are some amazing students. There are some bright, intelligent kids. They chose to be here and we’re excited about that. I was hoping we’d have some really amazing students who are committed to being at Albion and committed to seeing their community improve. And we do.”

The 2023 Build Albion Fellows class includes:

Kei’Asianique Hill: A native of Albion, Kei’Asianique is a 2019 graduate of Marshall High School who has volunteered for Beautify Albion, the Food Hub and Albion’s Youth Advisory Council. She is also involved in Kids at Hope, The Big Read, the NAACP and several other community programs. One of five BAF “legacies,” her brother Ken’Yatta, ’22, was selected to the program last year.

Larenz Hill: Larenz grew up in Albion and is a 2019 graduate of Marshall High School where he played basketball and formed an NAACP club. He has also been involved in the Albion Youth Mayor Coalition, Rotary Youth Leadership Academy, The Big Read and several mentoring programs. His brother, Eron, ‘20, is also a Build Albion Fellow.

Ian Robert Cameron Lee: A self-described hard worker with a positive attitude, Ian is a 2019 Marshall High School graduate who is interested in theatre. He is a member of Marshall High’s National Honor Society chapter and has spent two years working with The Big Read as well as numerous other volunteer efforts from blood drives to 5K races.

Eryn Lewis: An Albion native and a 2019 graduate of Parma Western High School, Eryn was president of the school’s National Honor Society who calls herself an “eclectic mix” that allows her to empathize and work with many people. She is also involved in the First Baptist Church of Albion and an avid participant in track.

Madisyn O’Dell: A 2019 graduate of Springport High School, Madisyn was an avid participant in athletics as well as in the school’s National Honor Society, Student Council and National Art Honor Society. She has also volunteered for the Red Cross and the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Cassidy Porter: Born and raised in Albion, Cassidy is a 2019 Marshall High School graduate and works on a number of service projects. She is also secretary of the NAACP, a member of the Youth Advisory Council and does volunteer work for the Food Hub. Her sister Katie Porter, ’20, is also a Build Albion Fellow.

Sondra Sewell: An Albion native and 2019 Concord High School graduate, Sondra’s interests run toward secondary education, English and psychology, and she plans on a career as an English teacher. Her community service has included hosting blood drives and holiday canned-food drives. She also enjoys playing music and may pursue it as a minor at Albion.

Victory Stovall: An Albion native and 2019 Marshall High School graduate, Victory is involved in 4-H Creative and Performing Arts Group, the NAACP, Women’s United, Youth Advisory Council and Transformation Through God’s Ministries. She has also helped with Citizens to Beautify Albion. She joins her brother Governor, ’21, as a Build Albion Fellow.

Terek Straham: A 2019 Marshall High School graduate born and raised in Albion, Terek has been involved in numerous community projects including The Big Read, Across Ages Mentoring and Teens Exploring Nature. He has also been an event planner for Alpha Kappa Alpha’s ASCEND program. He follows his sister Shi’Terriona, ’22, into the Build Albion Fellows Program.

Jayonna Yahsha: An Albion native and 2019 Marshall High School graduate, community service has been a part of Jayonna’s life since she was young. She is a youth member of the NAACP and a member of the Youth Advisory Council; she also dedicates time to the Substance Abuse Prevention Council and Sisters Influencing Society.