Orangeburg County Community of Character will hold their 22nd Annual Fifth Grade Outstanding Character Recognition Program on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Claflin University’s Jonas T. Kennedy Center.

This year’s keynote speaker, Terrance Tucker, of Columbia, will provide motivational messages of inspiration.

Tucker is the founder and CEO of “The T.U.C.K. Project, a mentoring initiative aimed at fostering male achievement across Columbia and Augusta, Georgia. A proud graduate of C.A. Johnson High School and a distinguished alumnus of South Carolina State University, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management and a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, reflecting his deep commitment to education and personal development. Under his leadership, the organization has grown from a modest group of five mentees in 2016 to a community of over 170 young men and 15 volunteers.

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Guided by the principle of “reaching back while reaching ahead,” the project focuses on empowering young men to recognize and achieve their maximum potential through mentorship, life skill training, and community outreach initiatives. Since its inception, the T.U.C.K. Project has made significant strides in the community. Its monthly outreach initiative, which provides essential resources to the homeless in downtown Columbia demonstrates the organization’s commitment to holistic community support.

The T.U.C.K. Project has hosted over five successful male achievement summits, preparing first-generation college students for higher education. Tucker’s impact extends beyond the T.U.C.K. as he is a motivational speaker, having addressed audiences at over 200 educational institutions and correctional facilities across Georgia, North and South Carolina.

In addition to his speaking engagements, Tucker is teaches life skill courses in two South Carolina federal prisons. His work in these institutions underscores his belief on the power of education and rehabilitation. Tucker’s contributions to his community have been recognized with several prestigious awards, including South Carolina State University’s 2007 Scholar of the Year, 2018 South Carolina State University Alumni Association Outstanding Garnet and Blue Award, the TRIO Achiever Award, and the WACH Fox Jefferson Award in 2021.

Living by his motto: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Tucker says, “it is imperative that we teach our future kings the principle that if service is beneath you, leadership will be beyond you.”

Participating schools include Orangeburg County School District elementary schools, Felton Laboratory Charter School, and Orangeburg Preparatory Schools. Each school has selected an honoree who embodies excellence in character and has also written an essay on a character-based prompt.

“This year will be another impactful program with students showcasing their leadership skills and talents,” says Executive Director Candace Berry-Vaughn. “When we invest in character development of our youth, we are doing far more than teaching them how to navigate the complexities of the world; we are instilling in them the virtues for greatness.”

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