Sonnie Sorsor has come a long way.
In the Fall of 2016, Sorsor will be enrolling at William Paterson University, where she plans to follow a pre-med track in order to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor in obstetrics and gynecology in the future.
Receiving a scholarship from the New Community Senior Advisory Board at its 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Dinner marked a significant step towards helping 17-year-old Sorsor achieve her goal.
The scholarship dinner on January 15 brought together NCC residents and staff at the New Community Neighborhood Center on Hayes Street in Newark to honor King’s legacy by presenting a young person residing at NCC with a scholarship towards his or her postsecondary education.
“She deserves it,” said Elnora Haynes, vice president of the advisory board.
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Sorsor said she faced major challenges when she arrived in the U.S. as a child. She struggled at first to learn English and endured teasing at school as a result. However, the experience did not embitter her, Sorsor said.
“That makes me the unique individual that I am and no one can take that away from me,” she told the audience.
It was a sudden tragedy that prompted Sorsor’s family to leave Liberia. When Sorsor was just 6, her mother died while giving birth to twin girls, one of whom also did not survive. As a result, her father moved their family to the U.S. in an effort to start a new chapter. The experience of losing her mother has compelled Sorsor to become an ob/gyn, she said.
Now a senior at Newark’s Arts High, Sorsor is majoring in drama and has found her niche performing on stage. A resident of New Community Commons Family, Sorsor began attending the Youth Services Department’s summer camp in sixth grade. By the summer of eighth grade, she became further involved and began working at the program as an aide. She said she credits the people at NCC for helping to mold her into the young person she has become.
“If not for New Community, I would not be standing here in front of you today,” Sorsor said as she thanked the Senior Advisory Board for its financial gift. She also expressed gratitude for her supporters along the way, including Care Coordinator Dorothy Artis and Muobo Enaohwo, senior property manager of Commons Family and Commons Senior.
The evening was filled with performances by the Silver Steppers, NCC Gospel Choir and praise dancers from the Love of Jesus Family Church of Newark. Under the direction of Sharon Pleasant-Jones, director of Health and Social Services, the care coordinators served the attendees dinner and dessert. Each table was festively decorated in a red, black or green tablecloth with a candle and confetti centerpiece.
Prior to Sorsor’s speech, Professor Louise Layton of Essex County College delivered a keynote address that highlighted notable parts of King’s life.
“I always say there are so many things we can learn from Dr. King,” she said, noting that King was arrested more than 30 times during his life as a result of his devotion to advancing civil rights and racial equality.
“We have to teach the next generation so that they know where they came from, and, thereby, move forward,” Layton added.