NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBakersfield


“Never stop being a leader”, Alpha Kappa Alpha instills leadership in local youth

Alpha Kappa Alpha celebrates students in their Youth Leadership Institute program
Posted at 3:00 PM, Jun 02, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in Bakersfield celebrates students in their Youth Leadership Institute program.

  • Finding your voice can be hard, especially in middle school.
  • The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in Bakersfield helps students come out of their shells and grow as leaders through their Youth Leadership Institute program.


Teaching confidence and self-discovery, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in Bakersfield completes its first Youth Leadership Institute program.

“They are different students than when they first walked in the door. They are leaders now,” said Dr. Vivian Gayles, co-chairwoman of the Youth Leadership Institute.

Organizers tell me they're instilling life skills in middle school students throughout the county.

Harriet Edwards, chapter president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said, “I’ve seen them grow from being shy and insecure about who they are and that’s very typical with middle school and junior high school students, to blossom into forming these groups of imaginative, innovative, inspirational, and motivated leaders.”

The program takes in students from 11 to 13 years old. Through projects and community service, the program passes on lifelong skills.

These skills go beyond school. Kesha Owens, co-chairwoman for the Youth Leadership Institute, said these lessons “… not just for the workplace or in their academics, but also their social-emotional learning, gaining the capacity to be able to tell people how they feel”

With 18 students in the program, they share the changes they’ve seen throughout the leadership institute.

“It’s been a really good change that I think we’ve had,” said Cayden Johnson, one of the students. “It’s been different in our character, and it’s helped us develop.”

Leia Robinson, another student, said, “It’s an enjoyable experience and you get to learn a lot of new things and it helps with life values.”

At the program’s closing ceremony, students showed their final project in front of family and supportive community members.

From reciting poems to performing on the piano, to conducting a visual performance.

“These are all shining stars and to be able to have this experience before they show up in high school,” said Michael Zulfa, Superintendent of the Kern High School District. “They’re going to be the leaders on the campuses in the Kern High School district in the future.”

Imparting some final words of wisdom to the students, Edwards reminds them to, “Always keep pushing forward, even if you fall. Land on your back, because if you can look up and reach up, you can get up. Never stop being a leader.”

As this year’s students carry on these lifelong skills, Alpha Kappa Alpha looks forward to growing the program in the years to come.

For questions on the Youth Leadership Institute program, visit the Alpha Kappa Alpha website or email

Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: