Each year at COA’s Oscar Night Hollywood Gala, we honor one amazing program participant with the Rising Star Award. This award recognizes individuals who demonstrate what it means to reach their greatest potential. This year, we honor COA teen program participant Jocelyn Banks for her outstanding dedication to her music, peers, community, and her tremendous leadership and personal growth throughout COA programs. Jocelyn embodies COA’s holistic mission to serve children, strengthen families, and build our Milwaukee community.
Jocelyn is a 16-year-old junior at Riverside University High School and has attended COA’s teen program at COA’s Goldin Center since 2017. Jocelyn comes to the Goldin Center every day after school to connect with friends, get homework help, garden, and explore her key passion in life: music.
Raised on Milwaukee’s North Side, Jocelyn was closed-off and anti-social before joining COA. However, after being welcomed by COA’s staff and immersing herself in all that COA has to offer, Jocelyn found her voice. “She came out of her shell,” says COA’s Teen Coordinator, Tamika Glenn.
In fall 2017 COA partnered with Milwaukee Public Schools to launch our new music and video production program. This program allows youth to practice their songwriting, production, and videography skills with professionals. Jocelyn took advantage of this opportunity by recording songs and music videos under her moniker, JBanks. Jocelyn has performed at venues throughout the City, including NO Studios and COA’s Skyline Music Series. Jocelyn is also active in the Amani community surrounding COA’s Goldin Center. She volunteers at community events and regularly helps out in COA’s food pantry. In addition to volunteering and practicing her artistic skills, Jocelyn also credits COA with boosting her confidence and her grades. Freshman year, she had a C average. Now she is on the honor roll.
Through her growth as a musician and the strong relationships formed at COA, Jocelyn has blossomed into a confident aspiring artist and entrepreneur. “When I grow up, I want to be an entrepreneur,” Jocelyn says. “And a social worker, helping youth thrive.” Her goals don’t stop there; she strives to take her art to the next level: “I also want to get into the arts world.” She wants to continue to rap, write, and even dance. In the future, Jocelyn aspires to attend either Alabama State University or Auburn University.
Ms. Glenn is confident that the Rising Star Award will inspire Jocelyn and her peers for years to come: “Jocelyn has a bright future ahead of her,” says Ms. Glenn. “She thinks the sky has no limit.” Congratulations, Jocelyn!