Claflin student, member of inaugural cohort, honored for collecting most units nationwide
The American Red Cross of South Carolina is pleased to announce two students from South Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been selected to participate in the American Red Cross HBCU Ambassador program and scholarship award. Kaiyah Robinson, a sophomore at Allen University studying biology, and Kashif Alston, a junior at South Carolina State University studying mechanical engineering, have been selected for the prestigious ambassadorship. They join Dwight Priest Jr., a senior at Claflin University studying psychology, who is in the second year of his ambassadorship and a member of the inaugural cohort.
“We’re incredibly proud to have three students representing South Carolina in this program and helping us to build and maintain a diverse blood supply,” said Rod Tolbert, CEO of the Red Cross of South Carolina. “These bright, young leaders are advancing a life-saving mission and will significantly impact their communities.”
The three students will be recognized on Wednesday at a presentation at the American Red Cross of South Carolina Central Chapter in Columbia. Additionally, Dwight Priest Jr. will be honored for his exemplary work as a Red Cross HBCU Ambassador, organizing two highly successful blood drives at Claflin University and collecting a remarkable 96 units of lifesaving blood.
Wednesday, September 20th at 11am
2751 Bull Street
- Rod Tolbert, CEO of the Red Cross of South Carolina
- Dwight Priest Junior, HBCU Student Ambassador, Claflin University
- Rebecca Jordan, Executive Director, Red Cross of South Carolina Central Chapter
The national program is part of the American Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the inherited blood disorder impacting an estimated 100,000 Americans – the majority of whom are of African descent – and increase donations from blood donors who are Black. Blood donations from individuals of the same race or similar ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients experiencing a sickle cell crisis.
“To be a part of this program is a blessing to me. I didn’t know much about sickle cell before participating in the program, and I learned why we need to help collect as much blood as we can,” said Priest Jr. about his experience as an HBCU Ambassador to influence his peers to donate blood. “Sometimes, when people ask questions about giving blood, they ask out of fear. You have to build up their confidence with your confidence. If I’m confident and let them know that they’ll be alright and give them a good understanding of why they should give, they’re more willing to give.”
About the HBCU Ambassadorship
HBCU Ambassadors receive a $6,000 scholarship award and participate in a two-week Leadership and Advocacy Academy with American Red Cross Biomedical Services leadership. Additionally, student participants demonstrate their leadership skills by organizing blood drives and educating fellow students and their local communities on blood donation and sickle cell disease.
The American Red Cross HBCU Ambassador program is a collegiate leadership and advocacy training program that identifies student leaders to serve as blood program leaders for the HBCU campuses. Participating students will receive a stipend, sales and leadership training, access to potential American Red Cross career opportunities and mentors, and the opportunity to educate their community on the need for diverse blood donors. Twenty-five students were selected for the inaugural cohort in 2022.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.