It took seven years and an endless amount of determination, but Keyonne Zaire Session is now an Eagle Scout.
The 18-year-old from Hollis earned the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America and was recognized in a National Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony on August 17 in Glen Cove, Long Island.
“It’s probably one of the most prestigious awards I’ve ever received in my life,” he said. “I feel like I’m added into a selective group of individuals.”
To gain the coveted title, a scout must earn 21 merit badges as well as organize, lead and complete an extensive service project.
Session — a member of the St. Alban the Martyr Episcopal Church, Troop 267 — created a memorial garden to honor Brian James Hom, a classmate and friend, who died two years ago in a car crash.
The garden is meant for anybody who has lost a loved one to come and reflect, he said.
Session was also the first recipient of the Brian James Hom Scholarship Award, which honors students who lives by Brian’s motto of “I am the me I choose to be.”
“I do it because I love the feeling that other people get when they realize other people are helping them. That feeling, the happiness they experience, it gives me such a fulfillment in my life,” said Session, the troop’s fifth Eagle Scout.
His mother, Nicolle, said she admires her son’s proactive nature and passion for equality.
“I’m very proud of what he’s done,” she said. “He’s always sticking up for the right thing. When you hear these different things from people, it makes you say as a mother, ‘I’ve done my job. I’ve done the job I set out to do.’”
Session graduated this year from Friends Academy, where he played on the varsity football team, performed in his school’s winter plays and served as treasurer for the Diversity Club.
He will be attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut this fall and studying psychology.
He said he hopes other youngsters will choose to become a Boy Scout.
“It’s extremely worth it,” Session said. “It’s taught me life lessons, like how to be a good person and role model, and the people I’ve met have been phenomenal.”