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.
A fourth-degree green belt in XXXX, who wants to be a doctor, Jayani is an invitee to the Presidential Inaugural Conference, the only elementary school student selected to the program for middle school students.
Her mother, Javon Brown, said Jayani received the invitation in January, but must raise $3,000 to attend the Jan. 18-23 conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, which includes an opening night reception, inauguration events, and a curriculum that examines the presidential campaigns, voting and the roles of the president, cabinet officers and the administration, as well as a gala celebration that includes a private concert at the resort’s ballroom.
Jayani’s great-uncle Archie Talley, a motivational speaker and former NBA player and Harlem Globetrotter, described his great-niece as a diamond in the rough.
“Her success in the classroom is a direct result of her hunger for education and always striving to be the best, and also her dedication, hard work, sacrifice and her unique ability to pay close attention to detail at such a young age. Her loving, caring, supportive and protective mother and grandmother are and will always be her solid foundation for success. It is a team effort and I am extremely proud of her and the entire team.”
Talley is especially pleased to see his great-niece invited to the presidential inauguration conference and said he admired President Obama and the first lady for their genuine love of children.
“Honoring young people like our Jayani and her fellow accomplished students in front of the whole world is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for anyone.”
Jayani watched the first and third presidential debates.
“The president didn’t do good in the first debate, but in the last debate, he did really well,” Jayani said, adding that she thought the debates helped Obama overall and that she was elated he won reelection.
“Selecting Barack Obama for a second term provides more choices and options for people, and he does not want anyone to fall back on their education,” said Jayani, who accompanied her mother and grandmother to the polls this year and said she wants to meet the president and first lady.
Jayani’s mother has set up a campaign on a crowd sourcing site to raise money to help send her daughter to the Presidential Inaugural Conference.