Sadonna Fleming is a recent FPD graduate, finishing up her high school career in 2019. At the completion of high school, she earned the honor of Most Community Service Hours; she has continued that spirit of giving back while in college. Now a student at Howard University, Sadonna is majoring in Criminology with a minor in Spanish and African American Studies. On top of her studies, Sadonna gives over 50 hours a week to community service in the Washington, D.C. area. She starts her classes early so she can spend her afternoons with two of her favorite organizations – JumpStart and 3DC Mentorship program.
We wanted to touch base with Sadonna to learn more about her efforts to make a difference in her communities.
Why did you choose Jump Start and 3DC Mentorship Program?
JumpStart is a national early education organization working toward providing equal education opportunities for young children. This contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty. I decided to work with JumpStart due to not only my love for giving back to the community but also my love for children in underserved areas. Childhood education is something that is of crucial importance to me, and I ultimately want to see every child succeed no matter their living situation.
JumpStart reminded me of a local organization in Macon, Georgia that I was a part of for many years and finding an organization that resembled it made me feel nostalgic during my first two semesters at Howard University.
The 3DC Mentorship Program centers around high schools in the DC Metropolitan area to aid their academic success. The mentorship program seeks to reduce the risk of students falling prey to the school to prison pipeline. Juvenile Justice is the field of law I want to go into, so naturally choosing an organization that aligns closely with that is something I would want to be a part of.
What volunteer work do you most enjoy and why?
While I enjoy all the organizations I work and volunteer with, I get the most delight out of JumpStart. I believe that early childhood interventions are the key to addressing social inequities. We must address systemic injustices, especially racial, ethnic and socio-economic, that contribute to substantial opportunity gaps for children of color and children from underserved communities.
I have always had a love for children in under-resourced communities. It is truly the highlight of my day when I see the kids at JumpStart light up when they see “Ms. Sadonna” as they call me. Knowing I am changing a child’s life by offering them individualized attention before they enter kindergarten, giving them the critical academic and social skills (the true “jumpstart”), drives me to continue working with them.
You and fellow FPD alum, Siarra Reese, recently helped organize a peaceful march in Macon. What was your driving motivation?
When the marches in Atlanta first began, I hoped that I would be able to participate. However, with my busy schedule, I was not able to make that work. So, then I thought, “What can I do in the Macon community, so that we can come together as a united front and stand in harmony?” That is when Siarra and I thought it would be ideal to orchestrate a march in Macon.
We chose the start and end point intentionally. Ultimately, the message we conveyed was intentional. I wanted to start at the Tubman Museum because Harriet Tubman is such an influential/important person in African American history. We wanted the community of Macon to come together united and stand in solidarity with African American community. We also wanted people to not just use their “platform” by posting “Justice for …” Instead, we wanted to see people actively doing things in our community. It is imperative that people have conversations with their close family members, friends, co-workers, etc. about the racial injustices the Black community faces and how they can be an ally.
The response I got from the march was everything I wanted and then some. It was simply amazing that so many different people came out to the march to stand with the African American community.
How did FPD play a role in your desire to give back and serve?
I always loved giving back to the community. I like to think of it as my “calling.” Throughout my high school tenure, I had the pleasure of being a part of FPD’s Project Lead. Project Lead centers around community service in not just Macon, but everywhere. This ultimately aided my desire to give back and serve all communities.
Any future career goals?
I have high hopes of becoming a Juvenile Defense Attorney. Thinking futuristically, I would like to do that for about ten years. I then want to go into the Criminal Justice field.