ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — A member of our WPTV NewsChannel 5 family was one of several leaders honored Wednesday during a Black History Month program at Royal Palm Beach High School.
Assistant news director Galean Stewart-James spoke to students about going after their goals and how to achieve them.
We know her in our WPTV newsroom as our assistant news director, making daily decisions about news content.
But on Wednesday, students at Royal Palm Beach High School also got to know Stewart-James as a leader and role model.
"I can be whatever I want to be, as long as I do what it takes to get there," Stewart-James told students in a message of empowerment.
Stewart-James is one of five honorees who received a Black History Month Achievement Award on Wednesday.
"For them to see someone who looks just like them to be recognized for the hard work and for the grit and for the passion, it says a lot and so I am truly humbled," Stewart-James said.
Stewart-James spoke to the students about perseverance when your path isn't always clear.
"I also told them it's easy to quit, right? And I had a choice to pick up the ball and run with it or muddle in my own mess," Stewart-James said.
And following your passion.
"I made the decision to go back to school, and that's where I graduated with a bachelor's and master's degree," Stewart-James told students. "Today, I challenge you to be the person people say you can't be."
James, who spent her entire journalism career in Mississippi before moving to Florida, said becoming the assistant news director at WPTV in West Palm Beach is one her life's highlights.
"To have the opportunity to come here and learn the culture and meet new friends and learn new things, that by far is one of the most proud things for me because I was stuck in that rut and afraid to leave," Stewart-James said.
Fellow honoree Pastor Toby Philpart of the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church said events like this, also featuring music and dance, show him there is hope for the future.
"This brings me back to what it's really about. Our youth, our young people," Philpart said. "A generation in which we all grow old and hopefully influence them in a positive way."
Stewart-James, too, hopes to leave a positive mark on these students and in our newsroom.
"Dreams are what you make them, so I'm always dreaming," Stewart-James said. "For me, black history is every day. And when you get to be honored during such a time, I'm humbled."
In addition to Stewart-James and Philpart, the other honorees who received the Black History Month Achievement Award on Wednesday were Debbye Raing, an educator who was the first manager of the Office of African and African American Studies for the School District of Palm Beach County, Merlyn Roberts of Medical Aide Services, Inc., and Derrick McCray, owner of McCray's Backyard BBQ.