The third annual Respectful Outstanding Sisters of Excellence “I Am My Sister” ceremony was held Thursday, June 6.

This ceremony celebrates young women becoming positive role models and encourages girls to have positive bonds as if they are sisters. High school girls from throughout New York participated in this program, which included an evening of skits, spoken words and speeches. The schools that participated in the program were Bedford Academy, Choir Academy, Khalil Gibran Academy and Magnet Law and Government High School, along with Montefiore Moshulu Community Center.

The third annual celebration took place at St. Francis College. During this celebration, three inspirational women were honored for their dedication to making their society better and becoming great role models for the youth.

Emmy-nominated journalist Janelle Burrell is a Brooklyn native who holds a degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has reported for CBS 2, Fox 5, MSNBC and WLNY 10/55.

Kristan Justice is a recent graduate of Cheyney University and holder of the title Miss Cheyney University. Justice urged the young women in the audience to be their best selves. “In a world that sometimes turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the positive things accomplished by minorities, this event was a platform for the greatness our youth have to offer,” Justice said. “While headlines may be filled with stories of racial inequality and devastating losses, ROSE is a program nurturing the growth our young queens in a concrete jungle. I was proud and humbled to be a part of such elegance, distinction and positivity.” Since her time as a college student, Justice has become a youth advocate to inspire young people to seek out the most productive futures for themselves.

Monica Sweeney, MD, MPH, who delivered the keynote address, is the former assistant commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She hosts the television program “Healthbeat Brooklyn.” In addition, she is an author of “Condom Sense: A Guide to Sexual Survival in the New Millennium.” She spoke of the strength and focus each person needs to succeed in life.

Two organizations that help and support ROSE are Women of Excellence, Strength & Tenacity and Bedford-Stuyvesant Wellness Center. WEST empowers young women to become leaders and gives them guidance, advice and scholarships. Partnering with ROSE, WEST provides workshops and mentoring. Bedford-Stuyvesant Wellness Center is a community medical facility in Brooklyn. It provides medical and pediatric service. In partnership with ROSE, it provided gifts and workshops for the ROSE girls.

Like so many dedicated volunteer educators and youth advocates, Darlene Walker-Mungin, creator of the Pens of Peace writer’s group, is instrumental in bringing young Black and Latino girls together to reach their highest potential. ROSE helps these young women to appreciate their value and have confidence in their decision making and in reaching for their goals.

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