Founders

Jennifer Watkins

Jennifer Watkins is a native of West Point, Mississippi and has lived in Staten Island for over thirty years. She graduated from Jackson State University, a Historical Black University, with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Management.  Jennifer is currently pursuing a Master’s of Social Work at Hunter College. She is a proud member of the National Council of Negro Women, NAACP, Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority Incorporated and the Order of the Eastern Stars (OES). Jennifer is the founder of Staten Island S.T.R.O.N.G. Historical Black Colleges and Universities TourTeam.  Prior to the development of Staten Island S.T.R.O.N.G., she was part of Moms on a Mission. At that time, there were two college tours leaving from Staten Island, one in the Fall and the other in the Spring. Jennifer believed in the importance of collaboration and working together as a team to enhance the tour to another level. She decided to go to the various churches on Staten Island that organized Fall tours and asked them to partner with Moms on a Mission. They collaborated with one another and eleven professional, amazing, hardworking individuals came together to form Staten Island S.T.R.O.N.G. The meaning of the acronym S.T.R.O.N.G. is Standing Together Reaching Our Necessary Goal and our goal is education. Jennifer has a passion for Historical Black Colleges and Universities because being a proud graduate of Jackson State University prepared her to become a successful Black woman. When Jennifer returns to her Alma Mater for Homecoming, she is full of pride seeing over ten thousand professional African Americans. Jennifer’s initiative is to raise awareness of HBCU’s so that predominantly White institutions are not held to a higher standard.  It is imperative that you invest in your education otherwise you will not receive anything in return. Jennifer does not want anyone to get a misunderstanding of what she is saying because she believes in diversity. Although HBCU’s are primarily comprised of African American students, it does not mean that students will have a limited cultural experience. On the contrary, people from all over the world attend HBCU’s, which creates diverse student bodies. Most importantly, HBCU’s spend four years giving students an understanding of the resilient, powerful heritage they come from. This is why Jennifer chose to attend an HBCU. She is also the mother of one daughter, Shannon Watkins, who also attended Jackson State University. Go Tigers!

Serena Brothers-Mohamed

Serena Brothers-Mohamed is a dedicated Public Servant, CommunityLeader, Youth Activist, Author, and Educator. A resident of Staten Island since 1991, Ms. Brothers-Mohamed received a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from the College of Staten Island; from there she went on to earn her Master’s in education from Cambridge College in MA.

Arthur Martin

My career in Financial Services spans over 25 years, with most of those years spent in the banking industry.  I have been employed at Columbia University in New York for the past 7 years and am currently an Assistant Director in the Student Accounts and Billing Division where my responsibilities include Billing and Collections.
I have also been involved with Boy Scout Troup 26 on Staten Island NY for the past 10 years having been a Scout Leader for many of those years and now currently serving on the Troup Executive Committee. My involvement in Scouting has allowed me to help mold young men as they go through their years of Scouting from Cub Scouts all the way to achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
Being a member of Team SI STRONG has allowed me to partner with a dedicated group of people whose main focus is to assist our youth in their quest for Higher Education, especially an HBCU education.  My SI STRONG teammates and I remain dedicated to this cause.

Deacon Jessie Barnes Jr

Deacon Jessie Barnes Jr. is a retired Federal Correctional Officer and have been a member of St. Philips Baptist Church for the past 12 years. He is one of the founding members of Staten Island’s only Drumline, The St Philips Heat. After retiring from law enforcement and seeing young African American males locked up and with no sense of direction Deacon Barnes joined Staten Island Strong College Tour to help young African American males see that there are other opportunities for them to pursue to have a better life.

“It’s a struggle for every young Black man. You know how it is, only God can judge us” – Tupac Shakur

Inga Monique Wilson-Hyde

Inga Monique Wilson-Hyde has been a proud member of the Staten Island S.T.R.O.N.G. College Tour Team since its inception, lending a hand to the logistical planning and paperwork processing as much as possible.  Inga is a member of St. Philips Baptist Church where she serves as the Church Clerk and Administrator, the Vice President of the Women’s Ministry and the Vice Chairpersonof the Charles K. Smith Scholarship Committee.  HBCU’s (particularly Howard University – Go, Bison, Go!) are very near and dear to her heart and it is her desire to expose as many young people as possible to the unique experience and possibility of attending one.  For the past twenty years, she has had the honor and privilege of being the wife of Maurice Hyde.  Together, they are the proud parents of Khalil – currently in his freshman year at Morehouse College – and Kamaria – who is patiently awaiting acceptance letters from several HBCU’s at this time!

Elaine T. Smith

My name is Elaine T. Smith: AKA Ms. Smittie. I have been a member of  St.Philips Baptist Church for 30 years. I serve on the Nurses Ministry, Audio Ministry, and Senior Ministry. Additionally, I help decorate for holidays, weddings, and other occasions. My motto is “if and when I can I will.”
I started college late in life, but did not graduate because of raising my daughter and working. I started as a chaperone for HBCU college tours taking someone else’s place. I’ve continued ever since.
My blessings on our younger generation and their families. They should never stop obtaining education and continue to strive while young and youthful.
Peace and Grace
Sis. Smittie

Maurice Hyde

Maurice Hyde is a veteran of the Department of education and has been a teacher and dean for the last 25 years.  His experience working with young people has been honed over the years by working with large groups of students as well as interacting with them on an individual basis.  His time teaching and mentoring students in Brooklyn and Staten Island has resulted in him building many lasting relationships with young people.  Although he lives in Staten Island, he is presently working at a dynamic school in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn where he has helped to improve the culture and create an atmosphere where students can thrive.  Maurice is married to his beautiful wife Inga who is also a member of the tour team and has two children, Kamaria, a senior at Moore Catholic High School and a son, Khalil who is a freshman at the mighty Morehouse College.

Mosezetta F. Overby

My name is Mosezetta F. Overby, and I am a proud mother of four. I graduated from a Historic Black College/University, Central State University. I obtained two Master Degrees one from Long Island University in Guidance and Counseling and the second from Brooklyn College in Administration. My passion has been EDUCATION and helping others, especially the youth. I was employed with the New York City Board of Education for forty years. Serving as a Teacher, Guidance Counselor, Director of Guidance, and Principal for a Junior High School and an Elementary School.
One of my biggest and greatest accomplishments was improving the academic levels of two schools with the new standards for Academic Excellence from F to A. TEAMWORK made our DREAM achievable by giving students wings and encouraging them to fly. As a member of the Staten Island Strong Team, I still hold on to this dream for the youth, to enrich lives by enlightening the educational fire within them!!

Kendall T Richardson

Kendall T Richardson; born 11-17-1976 in Albany NY. Married with two daughters and an FDNY Fire lieutenant. 
 
Graduated from Albany High school in 1995, Certificate of Fire Science from Schenectady county community college in 1998 and an associates degree i. Fire Protection technology in 1999 also from Schenectady county community college. 
A graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice with B.A. In Fire Emergency service in April of 2014
 
Started employment with the FDNY as an EMT in June of 2000 and was promoted to a firefighter in September of 2003. Promoted to Fire Lieutenant in may of 2014; SIDE NOTE- I received my acceptance call to Fire lieutenant from the FDNY during THE SI STRONG HBCU COLLEGE TOUR final trip during our ride home. 
 
Member of First Central Baptist church an has been a college tour chaperone for over 9yrs. 
The college tour has blessed me in so many ways. For starters, I’m able to give back to the community and share my life, college, spiritual and professional experiences with the HS students. Then, on the final day of the college back in 2014, I was able to share with the entire College tour team and students that I accepted my call for promotion to FDNY Fire lieutenant and that I’ll be graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice that following month. 

Kelly Etheridge

Kelly Etheridge is a native Staten Islander and retired in 2008 from the NYPD.After serving 20 years as NYC Police Officer.   She is the PM of Silver Queen Chapter No.43, Prince Hall OES, a member of the NCNW and the NAACP
She has a son Brett and a daughter Kierstan.
Ms. Etheridge has been a chaperone with SI Strong since its inception.  She enjoys taking the youths on these college tours so they can see that there are African American educators, scholars, and colleges for the African American.    Her main concern is making sure the students stay safe on tour and conduct themselves in a respectful manner toward each other.  The tour is to expose their minds to think outside their comfort zone so they can grow up to be successful members of society

Christy Ekpe

Christy Ekpe has been a chaperone on the Historical Black Colleges and Universities Tour since 2010. She is a graduate of I.S. 49 and Staten Island Technical High School. Christy obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Loyola University in Maryland and her Masters of Social Work Degree from Adelphi University. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker in the State of New York. Christy has fourteen years of experience in the social services field.

Christy credits her parents, Egup Ekpe and the late Owai Ekpe for instilling the importance of education to her. They emigrated from Nigeria to ensure that she would have access to a quality education and always pushed Christy and her siblings to put their academics first. Christy believes in the importance of encouraging young people she comes in contact with and reminding them that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. She is proud to be part of an organization that values education and exposes adolescents to a world they may have not realized was accessible to them. Christy is a member of First Central Baptist Church where she serves on the Usher Ministry. She is a New York Cares volunteer and participates in their meal services at Trinity Lutheran Church. Christy also mentors with I Mentor NYC, which matches high school students with college educated mentors. The mentors work with their students throughout the duration of the student’s high school career to prepare them for college.