MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As we get ready to head into a new year, it seems fitting to introduce you to a young woman ready for anything the future has to hold.

Meet Tameka Cannon.

She’s an A student at St. Cloud State University.

But it’s the person who helped get her get there that she’s thankful for.

Visit her dorm room, and it’s clear that Cannon is comfortable at St. Cloud State. That’s because home is never far from her heart.

One of her walls is a tribute to family and friends in south Minneapolis, her college friends and the nonprofit that helped get her there.

Cannon grew up in Urban Ventures, where she got the study skills that put her on a path to straight As at Washburn High School. There, she earned 24 college credits on her way to graduation.

“I think there is an inner organization, drive, purposefulness [in Cannon],” said Mark-Peter Lundquist, the vice president of outreach for Urban Ventures.

That’s why the organization chose Cannon to speak at their annual Dream Banquet two years ago. That where she caught the eye of Magic Johnson, a man who’d give her another assist.

Johnson spoke after Cannon, and then he spoke about her.

“In the middle of his talk, he stopped and said, ‘Where’s that girl who just spoke a little while ago? ’” Lundquist said.

The former NBA star said Cannon inspired him and that he wanted to help her.

“So he was like, ‘I want to give you $10,000, so you can follow your dreams to any school you want to go to,’” Cannon said.

Grateful, Cannon started crying. And so did the other 1,000 people at the banquet.

She used the money to go away to college and experience dorm life, instead of staying at home and going to community college.

She stretched the money further by becoming a floor leader in her dorm. It helps pay for school, and it plays to her strengths: being responsible and organized.

Now she’s a sophomore, carrying an A- average in computer networking, a major with a strong job market.

Thus, she’s fulfilling Urban Ventures’ motto of breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

“There’s been a lot of support put into her,” Lundquist said. “But it’s been all her choosing what to do with that.”

Cannon says her ultimate goal is to make enough money in the business world to open her own art studio for kids.

She says art is her true passion in life, and she’d love the opportunity to give back

Bill Hudson

Comments (2)