SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Two local women have been named as recipients of the Ubora and Ahadi Youth Awards for 2023.

The awardees are selected by the African Hall Committee of the Springfield Museums for their commitment to the Greater Springfield area and for having shown excellence in the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, the arts or academics.

The Ubora Award honoree is Lisa J. Green, PhD, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Green is an expert in syntax and African American English (AAE). She founded the Center for the Study of African American Language at UMass in 2006 and serves as director. She has authored two books and is working on a third, all published by Cambridge University Press.

Green is also active in community service, working as a volunteer and mentor with the Greater Springfield Chapter of Links, Inc.; the Western Massachusetts Chapter of Jack and Jill of America; and the Xi Xi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. And, since 1996, she has been running a children’s summer reading program that she started at a church in her hometown of Lake Arthur, Louisiana.

“I could not believe that I had been selected (for the Ubora Award),” Dr. Green said, “especially because I was very familiar with a number of previous recipients and simply could not see myself even approaching being in such amazing company. It is an incredible honor.”

The Ahadi Youth Award recipient is Catherine Thompson, a 2023 graduate of Springfield Central High School who graduated sixth in her class. During her high school career she was actively involved in multiple clubs and organizations including the Key Club; the National Honor Society; student government, and the varsity tennis and soccer teams.

At the Pioneer Valley Project, she worked on getting teens to pre-register to vote; as a Teen Advocacy Board Member for Girls, Inc. of the Valley, she attempted to increase awareness of racial justice, mental health, equal rights, and sexual/domestic violence issues.

“When I heard the news, I was amazed, joyful, and honored to have been chosen as the recipient among Springfield youth,” she said. “I am proud to say I was born and raised in Springfield, MA. I am still beyond grateful to be recognized at this level.”

Ubora means “excellence” in Swahili. This award has been given to an African American adult annually since 1992. Ahadi is a Swahili word for “promise.” The Ahadi Youth Award began in 2009 and is presented each year to an African American student (age 19 or younger) who excels both in academics and service to the Greater Springfield community.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums on Saturday, September 16, which is open to the public. For information on the awards and to purchase tickets to the presentation, use this link.

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