It’s been an uncertain couple of years since the rise of the pandemic. But even during challenging times, there’s a generation of folks carrying the light toward a brighter future. 

AT&T is recognizing these young leaders in the Dream in Black Rising Future Makers program. The program looks to celebrate and recognize 25 HBCU students who have been making a difference in their communities and hoping to impact future generations with their contributions. 

If you think these influential young scholars have bright futures ahead, just wait until you see what they have going on right now, before they even walk across the stage. 

Let’s meet a few of the AT&T Dream In Black Rising Future Makers: 

Kristen Reid

Year: Senior

Reps: Oakwood University

Major: Film and TV production

Minor: Political science

The Caymanian-American senior is a multi-dimensional powerhouse who channels her love of philanthropy through the arts. For her, community is at the heart of what motivates her hustle, and making moves to lift up the community has been a holistic process. Beyond creating a podcast that encourages open conversations about holistic wellness, Kristen also initiated an on-campus mental health initiative that led to the launch of the “Friendship Bench.” She says, “Through the ‘Friendship Bench' at my school, I hope students will have a safe place to talk about their struggles, judgment free, with each other and professionals who will sit at the bench from time to time.”

Trajan Baker

Year: Senior

Reps: Hampton University 

Major: Architecture

Trajan is an aspiring architect, but his vision spans many facets. In fact, this creative and entrepreneurial powerhouse has been recognized in multiple areas, winning the 2021 Target HBCU Design Challenge in the Target Black Beyond Measure Campaign and partnering with Hampton as a Forty Under 40 Alumni Recognition Scholar. And while he’s been making moves in many arenas, it’s through his creative business, Covrt Artist, that he hopes to connect with other creatives and inspire them to make their mark on future generations. His belief: “Art, in any form, is the truest expression of one’s spirit.”

Kennedy Buck

Year: Senior

Reps: Hampton University

Major: Journalism

Minor: Political science 

Kennedy is an aspiring journalist who’s already making her mark and inspiring others to share their stories. The Maryland native has made the Dean’s List all four years at Hampton and has been anchoring for WHOV-TV, the university news station. Still, one project that’s close to her heart is being the founder and creator of SisterTalk(®) with Kennedy Buck & Friends, a monthly town hall meeting for college women to discuss the everyday issues that are important to them. The inspiration that brought SisterTalk(®) to life was the idea to open up a space for Black women where they could be themselves. Ultimately, her goal is to become a news anchor and keep people talking about the stories that are really important.

Joshua Burrell

Year: Senior

Reps: Morehouse College

Major: Film

Minor: Journalism

Joshua has landed on the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and is an Art and Style editor and multimedia storyteller. He’s on a mission to tell important stories by any means necessary — whether it’s words, digital art or photography. In the last year, he’s successfully managed The Maroon Tiger, Morehouse’s student-run weekly newspaper, which aligns with his goal to one day become the creative director and editor-in-chief of his own magazine.

Christian White

Year: Junior

Reps: Kentucky State University

Major: Communications with a focus on public relations

Christian is a multi-talented, multifaceted Mississippi native to keep your eye on. During his tenure at the Kentucky-based HBCU, he was selected as a scholar for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund: Leadership Institute and had the honor of becoming the 28th Mister Kentucky State University. “I believe in turning dreams into goals and goals into reality,” he says. And of those dreams, the aspiring brand strategist has set his sights on one day creating a scholarship fund for people of color that empowers them to express their individuality. He says, “A great man and mentor of mine, Dr. Roger Cleveland, once told me, ‘Make your passion your profession and you will never go broke.’”

Carrington Whigham

Year: Senior

Reps: Florida A&M University

Major: Broadcast journalism

Minor: Theater

Carrington is a third-generation Rattler who aspires to create a platform for people to get involved in political and social movements. The Dallas native may only be getting started, but she’s already made some major moves in the political space. She served as Student Government Association President and Board of Trustee at Florida A&M, which has led to her participation in a national COVID-19 conversation held at the White House. Her advocacy for the importance of voting has led her to host IG Lives with Keke Palmer and Dwyane Wade. Carrington is also an International Leadership Fellow for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Devan Vilfrard

Year: Senior

Reps: Florida A&M University

Major: Political science with a concentration in pre-law

Devan is an aspiring community leader who hopes to make positive change with long-reaching effects on future generations. And even in just a few short years, he’s already created a world of impact. In the wake of the social justice movements erupting in 2020, Devan lists one of his proudest moments as the time he marched with the family of George Floyd for a Get Out The Vote rally during his internship with Attorney Ben Crump. But his dedication to service doesn’t end there. He also serves as a member of the Florida Army National Guard, performing hurricane recovery in crucial moments for the State of Florida. “As a Guardsman, I take great pride in giving back to impacted communities, considering my family was once in need of a helping hand after a devastating hurricane.”

Connect with these scholars and the full inaugural class of AT&T Dream in Black Rising Future Makers

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with AT&T Dream in Black.