A Diamond in the Rough

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  • Her grandmother is a retired educator, her great aunt has toured the world as a model, and her great-uncle is a nationally known motivational speaker, who once netted 116 points in a pro basketball game, in Germany. But at age 10, Jayani Livingston is considered the genius in her accomplished family.

    In 2011, the student from Excel Academy Public Charter School in Landover, Maryland, registered the best test scores for reading (470 out of 650) of any pupil in the state of Maryland.  Her math score, 424, topped all students in Prince George’s County the same year and by testing standards is considered “advanced.”

    “Excel Academy is a fun environment,” Jayani told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

    Jayani, an avid reader who said she would like to become a doctor, said math is her favorite subject.  She said she hopes to win a scholarship offer from John Hopkins, Howard, Georgetown or Harvard, but the National Scholar Program member said if she got multiple offers, she would choose Harvard, in part because it is President Obama’s alma mater.

    Last summer, Jayani attended a six-day medical education program at the 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where she learned how a cow’s heart operates, how the body works and about the diseases that can sabotage its systems.

    Rita Yates, who was Jayani’s third grade teacher, wrote the recommendation for Jayani to attend the program.

    “Jayani was referred for several reasons; she’s willing to go the extra mile with school work and volunteers her time to help others,” Yates said.

    A jazz dancer, member of the Folger Theatre – which stages Shakespeare productions – and a violinist since the first grade, Jayani was fourth runner-up in May 2011 at the Baltimore/Washington Miss Junior Pre-Teen Pageant.

    Although she didn’t take the crown, she was discovered at the pageant by a John Casablanca Modeling and Career Center representative. Jayani eventually signed a contract with Jill Roach, director of Model Talent Management and participated in “Success for All,” an educational infomercial, for producer Pat Matron who includes “The Wire” and “Hair Spray” among her credits.

    When Excel Academy Principal Diane Kanu announced that Jayani had won a commercial opportunity; the entire school erupted with joy.

    “Jayani has perseverance and determination along with natural talent,” Roach said.

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