Press Releases
Nadjah Pennington
Miss 2009 HJTTI DE
Nadjah Pennington Miss 2009 HJTTI DE
Youth Development Foundation, Inc.
Promoting Culture & Education through the Performing Arts
For Immediate Release - July 2009
Contact: Phyllis Tucker-Saunders - 240-475-0481

Delaware Military Academy Student Wins $1750 Scholarship at International Finals

Young women from around the world gifted in the fields of music, dance, singing, and acting came together in New York to participate in the 39th Annual Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens International Scholarship Program (HJTTI). After a packed week of activities, Delaware’s own, Nadjah Pennington, a student at Delaware Military Academy, walked away with $1750 in scholarship money as 2nd Runner Up and Miss Congeniality, a first for Delaware. Nadjah, an accomplished singer said, “This has been an experience of a lifetime. The Talented Teens competition afforded me the opportunity to showcase my talent on an international stage and meet lots of new friends. It was all so exciting. I now have new friends from all over the world, especially Miss Tennessee and Miss Trinidad & Tobago. All of the girls were really nice. I will keep in touch with many of them.” Nadjah’s Dad, Wayne Pennington, who was present in the audience cheering on his daughter, said “I’m glad it’s over, the competition that is. I look forward to an exciting year for Nadjah and working with the organization in the future. I thank the Inspiration for Excellence organization for all of their hard work on behalf of my daughter and their crowns are waiting in heaven.”

In addition to many long hours of rehearsal, they found time for the girls to enjoy the beautiful city of New York with a trip to a Broadway Show, dinner at Tavern on the Green, an outing on the Spirit of New York, visits to NBC and CBS morning shows, and much much more. On Saturday, July 18, the girls brought out their finest for the final competition with the theme of “I Am Change” and a crowd-pleasing, moon-walking tribute to the late Michael Jackson. As the night went on, the excited crowd at the Aaron Davis Hall listened as each contestant emphatically stated their goals and how they would make a change and leave their mark on the world. Nadjah, a junior at the Delaware Military Academy, in Wilmington, DE, sang her own rendition of “God Bless The Child” in a flowing floor-length fuchsia gown. As she hit her last high note on perfect pitch, the crowd rose to their feet to recognize her awesome talent, her quiet confidence, and her ability to touch people in a way that’s draws them to her inner circle, the same ability that was displayed all week to gain her the title of Miss Congeniality and 2nd Runner Up. Georgia’s 14 year old singer Briyana Guadalupe emerged from a field of 25 contestants to be crowned the 2009 Miss Hal Jackson Talented Teen International.

Among the enthusiastic crowd was Mr. Hal Jackson, founder of the Talented Teen Program and an American icon, the first Black radio announcer in network radio; the first Black host of a jazz show on the ABC network; the first Black play by play sports announcer on radio in the country; the first Black to host an interracial network television show on NBC-TV and many more “firsts.” Even at the age of 92, he still exudes enthusiasm and pride to see the contestants as they grow in maturity and talent, not only over the week at the nationals, but even the ones that return to perform and be a support for the program years after they have given up their crown. It’s a sight to behold, girls of all ages with a common bond, coming together in love and support.

Earlean Dickerson, Delaware’s Talented Teens Program Director, is excited that her organization has been able to bring the program to Delaware, expressing that “This is the organization's 3rd year; and each year we were able to take a young lady from Delaware to the international stage to express her talent and experience a week of simply awesome bliss. Each year Delaware’s representative has left her mark on the national competition and this year Miss Nadjah Pennington was no exception. She made us proud by her performance and placement in the top three. Nadjah will represent Delaware throughout the year until she crowns Miss Talented Teens Delaware 2010. We hope that Delaware’s young ladies 13 thru 17 will come out and participate next year. It’s truly a wonderful program that includes motivational workshops throughout the year. You can see pictures and more details at”

HJTTI has awarded over $1,000,000 in scholarships and prizes to its participants over the 39 years of its existence. Some of the past participants of HJTTI are Jada Pinkett Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Vanessa Williams. HJ TTI Delaware would like to thank all supporters and sponsors, parents and all contestants, Howard HS, Mayor Baker and the City of Wilmington, and the HJTTI Delaware Board of Directors.

If you are interested in Nadjah appearing or performing at your event, please make your request from our website, or e-mail