Activist & Model, Shade'

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Shade' Ogunleye: “In 2004, AIDS was listed as the number one killer of African American females between the ages of 21-35. People's lives are being needlessly cut short. We have two options; we can either keep dancing around the subject for fear of frightening or offending anyone or tell the truth and save lives. While there is no cure for AIDS, there absolutely is a cure for ignorance: education.�

(Shade' Ogunleye...we must do more to fight HIV/AIDS).

Where She’s From: Shade' Ogunleye was born on February 7, 1986 and is a Sophomore at Columbia University in the City of New York. She plans to pursue her degree in Medicine at UCLA.

From an early age, Shade' began exhibiting strong leadership abilities and a great love for children and the less privileged.  She began volunteering in 5th grade at camps for disabled children and has been awarded most outstanding volunteer at Junior Wheelchair Sport scamp three years in a row (2002-2005). HBO interviewed her regarding her work with the camps. She has always been athletically inclined and by 7th grade was third in the nation in the high jump for track and field. She has played on the JV and Varsity basketball teams and track and field teams at her high school.

In high school, Shade' was recognized academically each year by the California Scholarship Federation and the National Honors Society. In college, by the National Dean’s List. She has always enjoyed journalism, writing for her school newspaper as well as the local newspaper of Santa Clarita, "The Signal." Feature Editor Margie Ann Clarke was so impressed with Shade's writing style that she gave Shade` her own monthly column in which she wrote about any subject she chose. Shade` received first place in Santa Clarita's essay contest for high school students on "Character Counts", writing about the founder of El Faro Orphanage.

Representing the United States as a Student Ambassador, Shade' traveled to Australia in 2002 and to Europe in 2003 to learn about the customs of the countries and to harbor an understanding between the cultures.  On Sept. 24, 2002 in Washington D.C., the Congressional Coalition on Adoption recognized Shade' before members of Congress as an "Angel in Adoption".  Congressman Buck McKeon honored her at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.  She was chosen because of her personal dedication to helping the world's most vulnerable children. In addition, ABC chose her as a "Cool Kid," featuring her in a half-hour special on the top 5 kids active in community service.

Through her platform as Miss California in 2003, Shade` was able to bring awareness to world hunger. She worked with Mayor Frank Ferry over the summer and spoke at Local Chamber of Commerce meetings. Her greatest achievement, however, is the work she has done for El Faro Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico since the age of 13. 

With the help of her parents, she founded a non-profit organization to collect donations, take monthly trips to the orphanage, and better the lives of the children.  Starting from a very humble beginning of delivering lollipops, Shade's organization, "Kids International", now has a volunteer base of 350 people. Her fluency in Spanish has allowed her to adhere to the needs of the children. She organizes trips to the orphanage that have had caravans of as many as 25 cars. She has spoken at various venues to raise awareness including community organizations, churches, synagogues, youth groups, Rotary Clubs, etc. and has raised over $200,000 in cash and non-cash donations. A reporter from the Los Angeles Times caught one of Shade's presentations at an art auction for minority scholarships and did an article on her work at the orphanage in March of 2001. The article went on to become one of the top ten stories for the L.A. Times for the year 2001.  Shade's goals are many for the orphanage her main focus, however, is to make sure the children are healthy, well fed and in school.

Where She’s At: At Columbia, Shade` is studying for a premedical concentration in African studies. She is a member of the public health committee working to make healthcare more accessible for minorities. She also is an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients at the Harlem Hospital Center and an intern for Dr. Sofia De La Cruz’s pediatric office.

As Miss Black New York 2006, Shade` has begun a program called “Stop the Spread� in hopes of educating youth in New York and Los Angeles high schools and colleges about HIV/AIDS. She will work on her own as well as in conjunction with “H.E.A.L.,� a group on Columbia’s campus. HIV/AIDS is in America and teens need information regarding ways to protect themselves.

Where She’s Going: Shade` has always felt there was a strong connection between health and happiness. At El Faro, despite the children’s awful situation, they always found a way to smile when they weren’t bogged down by some infection or another. In turn, it is her sincerest wish to use her degree in African studies to gain a better understanding of the African cultures and peoples she hopes to one day assist in the AIDS movement.

Shade’s Words Of Wisdom: “It is better to light a match than to curse the darkness. So while I have lit a match in the wilderness that was healthcare for tiny El Faro Orphanage in Mexico, in Africa, I hope to ignite an all-consuming blaze. In 2004, AIDS was listed as the number one killer of African American females between the ages of 21-35. People's lives are being needlessly cut short. We have two options; we can either keep dancing around the subject for fear of frightening or offending anyone or tell the truth and save lives. While there is no cure for AIDS, there absolutely is a cure for ignorance: education.�

For More On Shade’ please visit www.missblacknewyork2006.com.

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